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7/9/2014 12:21 P.M. ET

Crawford nears return, but not as starter

DETROIT -- Carl Crawford could be activated off the disabled list as soon as Thursday, but manager Don Mattingly doesn't plan on giving him back the starting left-field job.

"I'm not really planning on making any big changes right now," said Mattingly, who added that he's happy with Matt Kemp as the everyday left fielder and a platoon of Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke in center field.

Mattingly said he views Crawford as a left fielder exclusively. On moving Kemp back to center field, he said, "Not right now. I like what's going on in center. We're playing pretty well. We'll talk about it. But as long as we're playing well and continue to win, we'll have conversations with everybody."

The Dodgers were 4 1/2 games out of first place and five games above .500 on May 27, when Crawford went down with a sprained right ankle. They fell as far as 9 1/2 games out and one game above .500 before rallying to go into Wednesday's play one game in front and 11 games above .500.

Mattingly, however, disputed the contention that the Dodgers have played better because Crawford has been out, while acknowledging they have been playing well while he's been out.

"It's the number of guys that makes everybody unhappy," he said. "It's not who it is."

Crawford started in left field nine of the 10 games leading up to his injury. Mattingly used the opening as a chance to move Kemp from center to left, the only position he's played since. Kemp has raised his average from .238 on June 4 to .275 and is 7-for-16 on this trip. Crawford was hitting .267 when he was injured.

Dodgers have plan if Kershaw starts for NL

DETROIT -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wouldn't announce his starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break, but he said contingencies are already in place if ace Clayton Kershaw is the National League's starting pitcher at the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday in Minnesota.

"We've planned if Kershaw would start and go two innings," said Mattingly. "We're prepared, unless they go four or five with him."

The Dodgers come out of the break playing in St. Louis on Friday night, and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is the NL manager who will decide when, and for how long, Kershaw and Dodgers teammate Zack Greinke will pitch on Tuesday. Mattingly said he might call Matheny to discuss their planned usage.

This is Kershaw's fourth consecutive All-Star appearance, but the two-time Cy Young Award winner has never started one. The last Dodgers pitcher to start an All-Star Game was Brad Penny in 2006.

Mattingly believes Beckett won't be out long

DETROIT -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly downplayed the severity of the left hip impingement syndrome that put starting pitcher Josh Beckett on the 15-day disabled list.

"I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty confident it won't be months and months," Mattingly said of Beckett's likely return. "He's been dealing with it and pitching well. We hope a little time off will help. We're confident he'll be back and able to pitch."

Depending on the severity of hip impingement, it can lead to a torn labrum and necessitate surgery. But the Dodgers don't believe that's the case with Beckett.

Clayton Kershaw missed a start with hip impingement late in the 2012 season, but he never went to the disabled list or needed surgery.

Beckett received a cortisone injection on Monday. The club expects him to begin rehab this week and possibly return by the end of the month.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.