One of the toughest things for a big league player to deal with is going from everyday player to occasional starter and pinch-hitter.
Recently, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier has had to deal with this transition, going from playing just about every day to starting just four games in the last 20. The recent hot streak by Carl Crawford, along with the sustained success of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, has left Ethier without a defined spot.
According to Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times, the former All-Star would like some clarification on his place with the team:
What role?” Ethier said. “What role is that? They still haven’t said what my role is.”
The testy response comes from a nine-year veteran that has seen his numbers and playing time drop the past three years. This season, Ethier is hitting .245 with four home runs and 40 RBIs in 108 games. Over the past month, he has just six hits in 27 at-bats, with many of those at-bats coming as a late-inning pinch-hitter. Ethier has even begun to learn a new position, taking the field at first base in a recent game.
Ethier claims a lack of communication from manager Don Mattingly and described how he learns of his role:
I still come to the ballpark every day and look at the lineup to see if I’m in there,” Ethier said. “The lineup comes up and that’s the first you know if you’re playing or not.”
It seems as if Ethier would like to be told that he is the fourth or fifth outfielder and has been relegated to the bench. Mattingly has a reason for the moves he makes:
We were trying to find the right combination of guys,” Mattingly said. “It just took a while. People think I set the lineup. I really don’t, they do by the way they play. Matt was swinging the bat well and kinda pushed himself into an everyday spot. Carl’s gotten hot and been very competitive for us. They just worked it out.”
Ethier has done whatever the team has asked over the past two seasons and has never complained about playing time, but his unclear role may be something that Mattingly wants to discuss to keep the peace in the clubhouse.
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