LOS ANGELES Carl Crawford held up the sparkling white Dodgers home jersey so that photographers could get their shots, but after taking a look at his name and number on back, he asked if he could try it on.
Feels good, he said, smiling.
After what Crawford has been through, it probably feels better than good. Hes getting a new start in LA, is putting the turmoil of 1 seasons in Boston behind him and hoping hes ready for spring training after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow two months ago.
At the moment, Crawford sounds optimistic hell be ready to swing a bat when camp opens in February, although it may take a while before he begins throwing.
Right now, Im ahead of schedule, he said. Im shooting for spring training. Thats definitely a goal of mine. I think Ill be ready.
Although he officially became a Dodger in the mega-trade with the Red Sox last August, Crawford didnt make his first appearance at Dodger Stadium until Friday morning. He had wanted to join his new teammates soon after the deal happened, he said, but he was still recovering from surgery two days before the Aug. 25 trade.
Crawford, 31, was considered a throw-in in the swap that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to LA for James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Allen Webster. But given the upheaval that was taking place in Boston, he said he knew it was time to go.
Its no secret, it was a tough year in Boston, he said. Its one of those things that I wouldnt want any player to go through, so for me to get out of that situation definitely was a relief so I wouldnt have to go through the stress and stuff every day that it was putting us through.
The season was particularly difficult for Crawford, who underwent surgery on his left wrist in January, hurt his elbow in April while rehabbing and played in just 31 games, hitting .255.
That was a poor return on a seven-year, 142-million investment the Red Sox made in him as a free agent in 2011.
You could say a bunch of things didnt go well, but really, I dont want to get into that, he said. I just didnt play well for some reason. Things didnt work out for me. I didnt do my part.
Asked his reaction when he learned that Bobby Valentine had been fired by the Red Sox after the teams disastrous 93-loss season, Crawford said, I pretty much try to leave that stuff alone. It was a rough year for us over there. It was unfortunate that the season had to end like that.
Even so, he said he was shocked when he heard he had been traded and even believed it was just another rumor.
I was really shocked, he said. I definitely didnt see it coming. I heard they were working on it for a while, but I didnt believe it for a while afterward, like two or three weeks. But Im happy Im here now.
Once hes ready, Crawford will join Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the Dodgers outfield, although Kemp is still recuperating from shoulder surgery this month. General Manager Ned Colletti said team physician Neal ElAttrache expects Kemp to be ready for spring training and opening day.
He might be a touch behind, Colletti said, but spring training has such length to it that youll be able to get him up to game speed by the time we get finished with camp.
Crawford said he isnt allowed to swing a bat or throw until January, and Colletti said the team has been monitoring him closely at his home in Houston. Head Trainer Sue Falsone has already been there for a visit, and Crawford was scheduled to meet with ElAttrache and Stan Conte, the teams senior director of medical services, later on Friday.
With a healthy Crawford added to a lineup that includes Kemp, Ethier, Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, Colletti said, I think its the best lineup weve put out here since Ive been here and has a chance to be one of the better lineups in the league. That said, theyre going to have to do it. Youve got to play the games.
Crawford said hes thankful hes getting another chance after things went so poorly in Boston. He got the contract he wanted, but he never delivered as promised.
Even so, he insisted he has no regrets.
I cant regret nothing I do, he said. You have to take on new challenges and see what works for you, and thats pretty much what I was doing. I think Id do it over again if I had to.
It was just one of those challenges I didnt meet up to. Im a competitive guy, so I hate to say I failed at something, but you cant win all the time. I definitely have a lot of baseball left in me, so its good to get a second chance.