Andre Ethier didn’t earn the “Mr. Clutch” nickname by accident. He once was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ most feared hitter in key moments, coming up with any variation of a game-tying, go-ahead or walk-off hit more times than not.
However, over the last two seasons Ethier found difficulty in getting playing time, much less being in position to be a hero. That’s drastically changed in 2015. With injuries to Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig, Ethier has been a savior in the outfield. He offset the expected production lost with Puig on the disabled list and slid to left field without issue once Puig returned.
As much as Ethier welcomes his current role with the team as opposed to years prior, it’s come at a cost. He was removed after the sixth inning of Thursday’s game with what Dodgers manager Don Mattingly later described as the 33 year old being “heavy-legged.” While Mattingly expected Ethier to be in the lineup for Friday’s game, the outfielder was not.
Mattingly said prior to the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Ethier was sitting as a precaution due to dealing with general soreness. With the Dodgers trailing 2-0 in the seventh inning, Ethier pinch-hit and hit a two-run single to tie the game.
Ethier then raced around the bases to score the go-ahead and deciding run on Joc Pederson’s RBI double. “He had one good run in him,” Mattingly quipped after the game. The fifth-year manager then went on to explain why he believes Ethier has routinely proven capable of coming up with key hits.
“He’s got a good swing, it’s simple,” Mattingly said. “He’s got experience and he can come off the bench and give you a good at-bat.” As for his thought process in those moments, it’s a matter of zeroing in for Ethier. “I have a tendency to see the ball real slow and focus on the situation,” he said.
Ethier added his at-bat in Friday’s game made that an easier task given the two outs. “There’s two outcomes,” he said. “Either you get a hit or the inning is over. Tonight was one where I come away as the hero, I’ve been the goat plenty of times.”