With Carl Crawford being activated from the disabled list Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers have their full assortment of outfielders — sort of.
For a second consecutive game, Andre Ethier was not in the lineup despite the fact that the Dodgers were again facing a right-handed pitcher. Manager Don Mattingly stated prior to Friday’s game Ethier isn’t quite 100 percent and the team is trying to get him the requisite rest.
Scott Van Slyke replaced Ethier and found himself in the crosshairs of the Dodgers’ apparent lack of a true center fielder. With no outs and a runner on first in the fifth inning, Chase Headley hit a ball to deep center that Van Slyke had a read on, but was unable to come up with a leaping catch.
The play was by no means routine, but Van Slyke did manage to get his glove on the ball. Following the 6-3 loss, Mattingly didn’t fault Van Slyke for not completing the catch, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
That’s a tough play,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “That ball’s crushed. I thought it would have been an incredible play.”
Haren, who failed to record a single out in the fifth inning also didn’t blame Van Slyke:
I’m not going to make excuses. I’ve got to be better. Scott made a great effort on that ball.”
Had Ethier been in center at the time, there still isn’t a guarantee he makes the catch as he’s also had his share of struggles defensively. Matt Kemp’s inability to field the position efficiently and effectively resulted in him being benched and moved to left field.
Although the Dodgers have five outfielders on the roster, Mattingly is seemingly out of possible adjustments — unless the Dodgers look to the trade market or their farm system for an answer. Yasiel Puig’s speed and talent suggests he has the tools to play center field, but it’s been suggested that’s not a move that will be made.
While not likely, it’s plausible a healthy Ethier can remedy the situation, but with the July 31 trade deadline quickly approaching, the Dodgers are in need of a resolution sooner rather than later.
Leaked Houston Astros Trade Talks Reveal Dodgers Shopped Carl Crawford In 2013