When Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp went down with his ankle injury in mid-July, the question that Don Mattingly had to answer was who would fill-in for him.
Mattingly found his answer in the form of outfielder Andre Ethier, who hadn’t played a single game at the position in his career and wasn’t the first name that came to mind. However, Ethier has admitted that he always wanted to play center field and given the chance, he hasn’t disappointed.
Talking to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Dodgers first base Davey Lopes talked about the job Ethier has done at his new position:
No one’s complaining about the job he’s done, Lopes said. We’re all pleasantly surprised. If we have to go this route the remainder of the season, we don’t feel it’s something we have to plug up because he’s done a fine job.
In 67 games playing center field, Ethier has made only two errors in 123 chances and while there have been tumbles and balls a faster player would’ve caught, he’s held his own.
The position change seems to have also woken up Ethier’s bat as he was hitting .253 before the switch and now has his batting average at .279 to go along with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs.
As Kemp is nearing a return to the Dodgers lineup, Mattingly will have a tough decision to make and said to Hernandez, “It’s hard to do anything with ‘Dre right now,”. Another meeting might be in store with Mattingly and his four outfielders, but for now, it sounds like Ethier is enjoying his chance in center field.
In case you missed it, be sure to find out more about the Michael Young trade!