As the longest tenured player on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster, Andre Ethier’s time with the club hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Trade rumors, injuries and playing sparingly have been a few of the issues to at times cast a dark cloud over his tenure in Los Angeles.
Coming into the 2015 regular season, there again didn’t appear to be room for Ethier. He lost out to Joc Pederson on the competition to start in center field, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s history suggested Carl Crawford would be the preferred choice in left field.
However, with injuries to Yasiel Puig and soon after Crawford, the 33-year-old Ethier suddenly became indispensable. And to his credit, the Phoenix, Ariz., native took advantage of the opportunity presented to him. With Puig now back from the disabled list and Crawford working to return, Ethier could again see his playing time cut into.
Once the Dodgers are back to full health in the outfield Ethier knows it will be a battle among teammates for playing time, according to Steve Bourbon of MLB.com:
It’s every man for himself,” Ethier recalled. “It’s not a competition against other teams, it’s a competition of the guys in here, and may the best man win.”
He also said the situation is of course one that he would prefer to avoid, but understands the necessity of being prepared to produce when called on:
It’s nothing that you like to see or nothing you want to be a part of, but it’s one where they make decisions and you have to be ready for your day,” Ethier said. “That’s all you can do here. It’s a thing where there’s a lot of guys vying for spots in that lineup and you can’t play every day.”
After saying in Spring Training his desire was to play every day, Ethier has backed his comments up with continued strong play. The eight home runs hit this season surpass his 2014 total when he had just four in 130 games.
Both Ethier and Mattingly have made mention of health as an important factor playing a role in the renaissance season of sorts. While the perception has held the Dodgers owned a surplus of outfielders, it continually has played out to them having just enough depth to absorb the assortment of injuries.