LOS ANGELES--Carl Crawford was on the disabled list for six weeks that felt like an eternity. When he was activated Thursday, he found himself waiting some more.
Crawford wasn't in left field for the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres. He was on the bench.
He was there when Clayton Kershaw served up the a sixth-inning solo home run that ended his scoreless streak at 41 innings. He was still there when Kershaw struck out Rene Rivera to finish his second complete game of the season.
About the only time Crawford moved was to high-five Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, who scored the team's only runs.
A four-time All-Star with about $70 million remaining on his contract, Crawford could have complained about his situation, even asked for a trade. He didn't.
"I understood it," Crawford said.
In a meeting Thursday afternoon, Crawford was informed by Manager Don Mattingly that he would likely have a lot more days like this one in the near future.
The Dodgers are now in first place and Mattingly has no intention to change course. They dropped to 5 1/21/2 games back of the San Francisco Giants on the day Crawford landed on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle. The deficit increased to as much as 91/2 games. They now have a one-game lead.
"Things have been going well for the team right now, so he pretty much said he's going to leave it as it is right now and kind of mix me whenever he can," Crawford said. "There's not too much I can say to that. Guys have been playing extremely well and got back into first place. I just have to be ready for when my number's called and try to stay sharp enough so I can play well for when I do get in the game."
That means Matt Kemp, not him, will be the primary left field. Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier will continue to share time in center field. Yasiel Puig will be in right field.
"It's a situation where we're winning, so you definitely don't want to be the guy who's complaining about dumb stuff," Crawford said. "I'm not that guy. I just want to be here to cheer everyone on."
This is Crawford's 13th season in the major leagues. He understands how one disgruntled player can affect the entire team.
"I definitely don't want to do that because that definitely takes a toll on the rest of the guys, when there's one guy complaining about playing time and stuff like that," he said.
The overcrowding in the outfield was a source of clubhouse tension earlier in the season.
But Crawford said Mattingly's candor about his situation makes this easier to accept.
"I think that was a problem early on, coming to the field early and guys just not knowing," Crawford said. "Now, I think people now know what's going on."
Mattingly appreciated how Crawford received his message, but wasn't surprised.
"Obviously, Carl is a guy that wants to play," Mattingly said. "But at this point, he sees what's going on, we've been playing well. At the end of the day, I think guys want to get to the postseason and have a chance to win it all. He sees that we're winning and playing OK. He also knows there will be chances and opportunities. He's played long enough to know this season is long, there's going to be guys are going to get banged up."
The Dodgers have three more games until the All-Star break. They will resume their schedule with a nine-game trip that includes stops in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
"We have a nasty little month coming at us," Mattingly said. "We start it with a tough roadtrip and we're going to need everybody."
Crawford understands his situation could change in an instant. Kemp and Ethier have lengthy medical histories. Puig is always crashing into something.
"Just like I twisted my ankle quick, something can happen to anybody else," Crawford said. "Not that I'm wishing for that to happen to anybody, but just in case it does, I want to be ready when it's my time to step it."
Dodgers 2, San Diego Padres 1
ON THE MOUND: Clayton Kershaw's scoreless streak ended at 41 innings on a sixth-inning solo home run by Chase Headley, but the Dodgers ace was otherwise nearly flawless in a complete-game victory. Kershaw won his eighth consecutive start by limiting the Padres to a run and three hits. He struck out 11 and walked one, lowering his earned-run average to 1.78.
AT THE PLATE: The Dodgers had a relatively quiet day against Odrisamer Despaigne, a 27-year-old rookie from Cuba. Making only his fourth career start, Despaigne held the Dodgers to two runs and seven hits over seven innings. Despaigne allowed a fourth-run double to countryman Yasiel Puig, who later scored on a hit by Scott Van Slyke. The Dodgers scored the winning run in the sixth inning, when Adrian Gonzalez drove in Hanley Ramirez with a sacrifice fly to center field. For Gonzalez, the run batted in was his team-leading 59th.
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