Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier found himself in unchartered territory last season: center field. With Matt Kemp seemingly injured all season long, Ethier filled in admirably and the Dodgers were able to plug Yasiel Puig into right field.
While Ethier’s offense dropped off in 2013, he made the transition to his new territory quite nicely. With Kemp still injured, Ethier figures to roam center field until he’s back, but according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, he’s open to playing another position late in games:
Ethier said the idea of moving him to first base as part of a late-game double switch has been discussed with him. He hasn’t practiced at first base but said with a smile, “I’m going to do it the way I did center field last year, just go out and do it.”
Ethier has played one inning at first base in the big leagues, August 5, 2010 to be exact, but with manager Don Mattingly’s affinity for double switches, it’s possible he plays a few innings there. While he hasn’t played much first base in the majors, he also has experience from his days in college at Arizona State.
With Carl Crawford uncertain to make the trip to Australia as he awaits the birth of his son, the 31-year-old outfielder might find himself playing a game in left field. Once Kemp returns, Mattingly will have a decision to make with his four outfielders, but Ethier’s versatility could be what he needs to stay in the lineup. Not to mention, he’s swinging at hot bat in spring training, hitting .364 in 35 plate appearances with a home run and two doubles.
Crawford, Kemp and Puig are the presumed outfield when everyone is healthy as many believe Ethier is the odd man out once all four are healthy. While the Dodgers might not have to worry about this problem for close to a month, being able to play first base might get him on the field more than originally thought.
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