CLEARWATER, Fla. --- The Phillies' top prospect was turning double plays during pre-game infield practice Tuesday when he felt a sharp pain. When he felt it again in the minor league game, J.P. Crawford took himself out.
A left oblique strain, the first injury of Crawford's young professional career, will keep the touted shortstop restricted from baseball activities for probably the next week. He feels sore while standing and walking, he said. He will be sidelined from games for four-to-six weeks. The Phillies hope to have a more exact timeline a week from now.
"It's definitely frustrating, but it's all part of the plan," Crawford, 20, said Friday morning. "It's all part of God's plan I think, and I'm going to come back stronger than before and I'll still have a good season."
The injury means Crawford will remain in Clearwater to continue rehabbing when the 140-plus minor leaguers join their various affiliates next week to ready for the start of the regular season. Entering the spring, Crawford was likely to begin April in high-A Clearwater with a chance to advance to double-A Reading in the near future.
Now his season will just start a bit later.
"It's just a setback. This stuff happens," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "J.P. was having a very good spring training. He was having as good a spring training as anyone over there. It's disappointing but it's not a big deal. It shouldn't be a big deal. It just set him back a little bit."
Crawford hit .275 in 63 games with Clearwater to finish last season. In 121 games combined between Lakewood and Clearwater, he hit 11 home runs, 23 doubles and drove in 48 runs. Honing aspects of his defense was an offseason focus after a combined 29 errors last season.
His spring had been off to a great start.