More than halfway through the 2014 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield remains in flux. In taking a pitch off his left hand and needing days off to recover, Yasiel Puig missing time triggered yet another change.
With Puig unavailable, manger Don Mattingly made the decision to pluck Matt Kemp from left field and drop him in right, which is Kemp’s original position; even before he became a full-fledge center fielder.
Kemp has played well in right field and spoke of feeling more comfortable than he did in left. That led to Puig starting in center on Friday and Andre Ethier once again on the outside looking in.
Ethier supplanted Kemp in center field in late May, but may have lost another starting job. However, Ethier is well aware very little is set in stone and he’s willing to do what’s asked of him, according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group:
One thing I’ve seen and learned around here is do not look too far down the road, because things change pretty quickly around here,” he said. “Things happen quick. So just keep coming here every day prepared to go and do whatever you’re asked to do that day, whether it’s to start or to come off the bench and get a key hit or go play defense. Figure out a way.”
Ethier reaffirmed his desire to play but also has the bigger picture in mind:
We have a chance to possibly achieve something here. That’s above everything else,” he said. “It makes everything worth going through.”
The 32 year old has been consistent with remaining focused on the team’s goals as his status in the outfield has fluctuated. Ethier made a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning of Friday’s win. He drew a walk and scored a run.
The Dodgers were rumored to be interested in trading Kemp, but a report Saturday indicated any deals are not imminent.
Coupled with the uncertainty surrounding Kemp and Mattingly stating he’s unsure how long the Puig in center field experiment will last, Ethier’s role for the foreseeable future likely entails platooning with Carl Crawford in left field.
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