Injury Roll Call: Kemp/Crawford timelines, Herrera fine after scare, Gwynn/Hairston healthy

CarlCrawford

The Dodgers, as a club, have a ton of injuries or guys rehabbing, so I expect this feature to be busy all season.

Two of the most important injury cases will start off today, as we get timeline updates on Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford.

Manager Don Mattingly said March 1 is a very rough target date for Kemp to get into games coming off left shoulder surgery. Crawford will likely be later than that as he returns from Tommy John elbow reconstruction.

“I don’t go definitely March 1 with Matt, because it might not be until March 5 or March 7 when he’s ready to play. That doesn’t mean anything’s wrong.”

Mattingly said both are likely to break in as designated hitters at first.

“Both guys I’ll DH a little early on,” Mattingly said on Friday. “Carl more likely [than Kemp]. He won’t get into games until the medical tests [clear their participation]. I don’t want him in a game and reacting and doing something like spinning to make a throw that we don’t want him doing.”

Kemp is doing all baseball activities, while Crawford is still on a conservative throwing program to rebuild arm strength with the hope that he will be ready by Opening Day.

Crawford is able to hit and participate in most workouts, but he is limited in throwing drills and hasn’t yet thrown beyond 90 feet.

Kemp will be delayed a bit, so he’s not on a completely normal schedule, but he sounds healthy aside from that and should be ready to start the season.

Crawford? Not so much. He seems intent on making an Opening Day appearance, but there’s no logic in rushing him back, especially given that he’s had the past two years submarined by injuries, and exposing him to injury risk by playing him at like 75% seems incredibly stupid.

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Elian Herrera, who got buzzed in the helmet yesterday, appears to be fine.

Dodgers utility man Elian Herrera narrowly escaped injury Sunday when White Sox pitcher Jake Petricka grazed his helmet with a fastball.

“If I didn’t move, maybe I die right now,” said Herrera. “It was coming right at my face. Not good.”

Herrera remained in the game until the Dodgers’ half of the inning ended, then was removed for precautionary purposes, but said he was fine.

Considering that he’s one of the few options the Dodgers have for the backup center fielder spot, his health may end up being important the club.

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Tony Gwynn Jr. apparently tried to play through a sports hernia in 2012 but is healthy now.

Gwynn, 30, played with an injury that was never discussed by him or the club. He believes he suffered a sports hernia lifting weights after the 2011 season, but he never had an MRI to diagnose it.

“I didn’t want to know,” he said Friday. “I wasn’t having surgery no matter what I had.”

He was hurting last Spring Training, hurting when Matt Kemp went down with that hamstring injury in early May and the relapse in late May. Needing to fill in for Kemp on almost an everyday basis for several months, Gwynn’s already injured body finally broke down.

You hear this a ton, but it rarely ever works out the way players intend. I totally understand the motivation to play through major injury, but in the end, they usually end up performing terribly and aggravating the injury, which hurts both the team and their career.

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Jerry Hairston Jr. is recovering from hip labrum surgery.

There was some measure of satisfaction for Jerry Hairston on Saturday just being in the starting lineup for the Dodgers’ exhibition opener.

Five months ago, bedridden after hip surgery, he doubted it was possible.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Hairston. “I worked really hard to get back. But for the first three months, I didn’t know if I’d be able to play at this level now.”

Unlike other Dodgers coming off surgery, it doesn’t appear as if the injury will limit him going forward.

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As mentioned in the other feature, Eliezer Alfonzo, who signed a minor-league deal in the off-season with an invitation to Spring Training, has been felled by dengue fever and was replaced in major-league camp by Matt Wallach. Eliezer will report to the minor-league portion of Camelback Ranch once healthy enough to do so.

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