SAN FRANCISCO — Reinstated from the disabled list, Carl Crawford was faced with a new reality Friday. For a day, if not more, he was starting the game on the bench.
Crawford was arguably the Dodgers' best offensive player when he went down with a strained left hamstring more than a month ago. But the emergence of Yasiel Puig has changed the dynamics of the Dodgers outfield.
Puig figures to be the everyday right fielder for the foreseeable future, leaving Crawford and two other former All-Stars to split time in the other two outfield positions. For the series opener against the San Francisco Giants, Manager Don Mattingly opted to start Matt Kemp in center field and Andre Ethier in left.
Crawford pinch hit for Kemp in the third inning after Kemp was removed from the game with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired left shoulder. But before that happened, Crawford was contemplating his short-term future as a part-time player.
"Nobody wants to be on the bench," he said. "But at the same time, we've got four good outfielders. Somebody's going to miss out. I understand that part of it. The competitive side definitely wants to play every day. The team's been playing well. You want things to continue to go well, so it's not something you want to cry about.
"Will I accept being a platoon player? I don't think so, but at this point, I have to do what I've got to do."
Mattingly met with his four outfielders before the game to explain the situation to them.
"It'll probably be based on how we're playing and pitching matchups and things like that," Crawford said.
Even though Puig's presence will reduce his playing time, Crawford praised the rookie, comparing his effect on the Dodgers to the influence Evan Longoria had on the Tampa Bay Rays as a rookie in 2008.
"When I was with Tampa, Longoria came up and had that same effect," Crawford said. "We went to the World Series that year. This kind of reminds me of that."
Bochy softens stance
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said last week that he didn't think Puig had played enough to merit consideration for the All-Star game. Bochy, who will manage the National League team, appeared to soften his stance on the eve of the unveiling of the rosters.
"He's done a great job," Bochy said. "Believe me, that's not gone unnoticed. There's been a lot of talk about him, a lot of interest from different people to have him in there. I understand that. I have to do what I think is right, and tomorrow you'll know."
Bochy, in consultation with the league office, will make the final few selections for the NL roster. The final spot on the roster will be determined by an online vote.
Asked if he could remember a player with as little major league service time who made an All-Star team, Bochy mentioned Bryce Harper last year.
"Part of it is you understand as a manager the fans want to see a certain player," Bochy said. "It's exciting for them. They've made a huge splash. They're bringing so much energy, it's intriguing. And even though it's a small sample size, when you look at the noise [Puig] has made, and it happens in a big city, and he has to be credited with what's happened with their club. He's been a spark for their team."