Over the last week, and especially after last night’s loss to former Dodger ace Zack Greinke, Dodgers fans are starting to get fed up. Over the last 7 games, the Dodgers have only managed to score 15 runs. That translates to an average of 2.1 runs per game and a record of 2-5. The weird part about it is that this is basically the same team as last season; the same team that was one of the best hitting teams in baseball.
There has been one major difference from last year though. The one name that has been missing all year is Andre Ethier. The Dodgers outfielder went down in mid March when he fractured his tibia with a foul ball during a spring training game. Not only was this devastating for Ethier in terms of his health, it could wind up being the injury that ends his career as an everyday outfielder with the Dodgers.
There are two reasons that I say this. First, it was reported yesterday that what was originally supposed to be a 10-14 week injury is turning into at least 16 weeks and even that is only an estimate. Ethier realizes that it could be even longer than that and had this to say about his injury,
“You can’t put timetables on things. I guess some injuries you can. But one like this that was — you heard from our trainers and even some of our doctors this is only the second or third time they’ve seen an injury from this type of contact done this way. It’s tough to put a true timetable on it.”
At 34-years-old, Ethier isn’t getting any younger and it sounds like his injury isn’t healing like it should be. Best case scenario, Ethier begins his rehab assignment by the beginning of July and is back with the big club after the All-Star break. However, Ethier still cannot even put full weight on his leg and hasn’t resumed baseball activities aside from swinging the bat one-handed and playing light catch. Even if he were to start a rehab assignment today he would likely still be weeks away.
Earning Back the Spot
Second, Trayce Thompson has officially taken over as the everyday left fielder and it doesn’t look like he plans on losing the job anytime soon. In fact, the Dodgers have made it clear that Thompson will still start even after Yasiel Puig returns from the disabled list. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ethier and Puig will be sitting the bench permanently, but it does mean that they will have to earn their way back into an everyday position just as Thompson has.
hardest part about the majors isn’t making it there, it is staying there
You see this type of thing happen every year and Orel Hershiser talks about it on the broadcast all the time, the hardest part about the majors isn’t making it there, it is staying there. Ethier has done a very good job of that so far in his career. However, it only takes one injury for the door to open for one of the hundreds of minor leaguers waiting their turn, and this time Thompson was the one waiting.
Ethier is still under contract through the 2017 season making it less likely that this is truly the last we will see of him. But if Thompson continues to play like he has through the first few months of the season, the Dodgers simply cannot sit him down and will not sit him down just so a veteran can get playing time again. Ethier could very well turn into a very expensive bench player like he did in the 2014 season, and we all know how he felt about being placed in that role. If things do turn out that way, I expect that Ethier would be willing to waive his 10-5 rights to be traded to a team looking for an everyday outfielder.