LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford continues to build arm strength following offseason Tommy John Surgery, enough for Dodgers trainers to give him the green light to bypass his cutoff man and throw to the bag when the situation calls for it.
"I'm glad to hear that, actually, because I think as much as anything, he's been throwing the ball pretty good," manager Don Mattingly said before Tuesday's game against the Padres. "I just don't think he's been feeling like he should be letting it go. So when the trainers tell him it's OK, I think it makes you feel better as a player. You can turn it loose."
That's good news for the Dodgers, as opponents have tested Crawford's surgically repaired left elbow in recent games.
On Sunday in Arizona, A.J. Pollack stretched a double in the ninth inning and later scored to win the game. On Monday, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso stretched a ground ball to left field into a double in the fifth inning. Crawford fielded the ball after it deflected off third baseman Luis Cruz's glove and nearly threw out Alonso, but his throw was not on target.
"Carl was over in left-center on that play, and he went a long way to get to that quick and make a play," Mattingly said. "If that ball doesn't hit Cruz's glove to slow it down, I don't think he gets to second on that play. If the throw is on line, he's out."
Crawford has been a catalyst at the top of the order, hitting .396 over 13 games with a .442 on-base percentage and a team-high 12 runs.
"He's been a really good surprise for us," Mattingly said. "He's showing us what he can do, and giving us what we need. Part of our issues last year was the first couple guys in the order were not getting on, and that's been pretty good so far this year."
About the only thing Crawford has done wrong recently was wearing two different colored spikes on Monday, one white and one blue. The mismatched shoes commemorated Jackie Robinson Day, with Robinson's No. 42 stitched on the back, but Major League Baseball informed Crawford's agent that the outfielder should not mismatch his footwear in the future.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter and Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.