Carl Crawford felt pressure to play

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford said he regrets having waited until July to have reconstructive elbow surgery, but that the pressure of playing in Boston compelled him to play hurt.

Crawford underwent Tommy John surgery in July, a month before he was traded to the Dodgers by the Red Sox as part of a nine-player blockbuster. During an introductory news conference Friday at Dodger Stadium, Crawford commented publicly about the trade for the first time.

Crawford said he realized he was seriously injured in April, when he could barely throw the ball from left field.

"I tried to push it a little bit. With the Boston fans, you've got to try. A big deal was made about my money and stuff, so I tried to prove it and play for the team," Crawford said. "Maybe I shouldn't have done that, I should have taken care of myself when the doctor told me to."

Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox during the winter meetings before the 2011 season, played in just 31 games last season. He is expected to join the Dodgers outfield at some point in April or early May. He has yet to be cleared for batting practice or throwing, and likely won't be until January.

"You felt the pressure from the outside to have to play in that atmosphere. If you don't play, it's like you're soft or somebody who's just trying to take money from them or something like that," Crawford said. "I wanted to prove that that wasn't the case. Me being stubborn like that probably cost me a little time the next year."

Crawford, who was recovering from surgery back home in Houston at the time the trade went through, said that for several weeks, he didn't believe news reports that he was going to Los Angeles. But the feeling of disbelief gradually gave way to a sense of relief, he said.

Turmoil in Boston led to the dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine earlier this month.

"It's no secret it was a tough year in Boston," Crawford said. "It's one of those things I wouldn't want any player to go through, so for me to be able to get out of that situation is definitely a relief. I won't have to go through all the stress and stuff every day that they were putting us through."