Dodgers activate OF Carl Crawford

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Carl Crawford from the 15-day disabled list Thursday, but he wasn't in his customary spot in left field.

He was on the bench, which is where manager Don Mattingly said Crawford will spend the majority of his time in the coming weeks.

The team feels it has settled into a productive outfield of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and All-Star right fielder Yasiel Puig. Crawford, for now, becomes an expensive fourth outfielder, earning $20.25 million in the fourth year of the seven-year, $142 million contract he signed with the Boston Red Sox before an August 2012 trade to L.A.

Crawford seemed to take the benching in stride.

"Things have been going well for the team right now and he pretty much said he's going to leave it like it is right now and mix me in wherever he can, so there's not much I can say to that," Crawford said. "Guys have been playing extremely well, they got back into first place. I've just got to be ready for when my number is called and try to stay sharp enough to play well when I do get in.

"It's something you never want to hear, but at the same time you've got to understand what's going on."

At the end of May, the Dodgers removed Kemp from center field for defensive reasons. Crawford injured his left ankle on May 28, and Kemp has been the everyday left fielder ever since, batting .289 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in the 38 games since. Kemp has a .781 OPS since the move from center field.

The Dodgers are going with a platoon of Ethier and Scott Van Slyke in center field, because they think those two players are their most consistent defensive center fielders. Mattingly said there are no plans to use either Crawford or Kemp in center.

Mattingly said he appreciated the fact that Crawford has accepted the reserve role with grace.

"Carl hasn't been any trouble with anything since we've had him," Mattingly said.

The presence of four everyday-caliber outfielders has been a source of conflict at times since early in spring training, when Kemp declared, "I'm not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that off right there. I won't accept that role."

To make room on the roster for Crawford, the Dodgers designated reserve first baseman Clint Robinson for assignment.