Carl Crawford will be the Dodgers' starting left fielder in 2013. That's their story and they're sticking to it.
Of course, the Dodgers really aren't sure. It's hard to be sure about a player coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, not to mention one that is owed more than $100 million over the next five seasons. That's what the Dodgers were willing to take off the books of the Boston Red Sox for Crawford in last year's blockbuster trade that also brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus Jr.
That's a trade with a lot of moving parts, although the Crawford component is likely the riskiest personnel move the franchise has made since trading away Pedro Martinez, if not the riskiest since they left Roberto Clemente unprotected in the 1954 Rule 5 Draft.
Crawford, 31, had his operation one day before the Dodgers acquired him, an unprecedented gamble considering the price tag for known damaged goods. His recovery and rehab is something of a mystery, as he has remained in his native Houston rather than working out under the supervision of club medics in Arizona, as Matt Kemp is doing while rehabbing from his shoulder operation. Of course, Kemp has a home in Arizona and Crawford does not.