GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carl Crawford's first objective is to do a better job staying on the field in 2014. Toward that end, he's taken a shift away from his old routine of lifting mass quantities of weight and focused more on workouts that emphasize quickness and core stability.
In preparation for his second full season with the Dodgers, Crawford moved to Arizona and spent the offseason working out under the guidance of the Los Angeles training staff. At 32, he figured it was time for a little experimentation.
"Father time catches up with you," Crawford said. "That's just the way it is. I made a few adjustments that should help me stay healthy longer throughout the season. We'll see if it works. If it doesn't, we'll have to tinker with it until we find something that works."
It's been an eventful couple of years for Crawford -- both good and bad. His seven-year, $142 million contract with Boston got off to a disastrous start, prompting the Red Sox to trade him, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles in August 2012 in the mother of all salary dumps. Crawford enjoyed a reasonably nice comeback season with the Dodgers in 2013, hitting .283 in 116 games. But he stole only 15 bases while dealing with ongoing hamstring issues, and he thinks he's capable of more if he can keep his legs in good working order.
Crawford has 447 career stolen bases and surpassed 50 steals five times in Tampa Bay. Although those days are long behind him, he should have the latitude to steal 20-30 bags if he remains reasonably healthy. In his winter workouts, Crawford said he focused on having better running form, "not getting sloppy and keeping everything tight."
Said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: "I think he wants to run, and we want him to run. But he's got to be healthy enough to run."
Certain questions remain to be answered. Will Crawford bat leadoff for the Dodgers, hit second behind Yasiel Puig or do some of each? And if Crawford, Puig, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier somehow manage to stay healthy at the same time, how is Mattingly going to divvy up the at-bats to keep everybody in a positive frame of mind?
Crawford, who rankled lots of people in Boston with his comments about how much he loathed playing in the city, is prepared for anything that comes his way in L.A.
"I still want to play better than I did last year," he said, "but that black cloud that I felt like I had over my head has gone away a little bit. Now it feels like the sun is out again."