Heading into Sunday’s game with the San Francisco Giants, Andre Ethier had been left out of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. The outfielder did enter the game on March 8 in the 10th inning and had one at-bat. Ethier surprisingly wasn’t in the lineup the following day, despite his career success against Giants pitcher Matt Cain.
Ethier started Sunday and responded well, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Despite the inconsistent playing time, Ethier is batting .355 in the month of May and overall has a .264 average with two home runs and 16 RBIs. The recent increase in his batting average may be attributed to a change at the plate, which Ethier is keeping close to the chest, according to Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register:
I’d tell you that, but then everybody else would know what I’m doing.”
Ethier would go on to state it’s a on-going process that includes reminders to help keep the outfielder on the right path:
It’s a process of me going through it. It’s one where it takes a little time. We’re still working hard on it, and you pick up little reminders here and there to make sure you’re moving forward and getting back to where I need to be.”
While much of the discussion involving Ethier has focused on him platooning with Carl Crawford, he also acknowledges he must continue to prepare as though he’s starting every day. What the future holds for Ethier is uncertain at best. His already muddied playing time situation may have become more complicated with Mattingly’s recent assertion that Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are every day players.
The Dodgers rarely had all four outfielders healthy last season and Ethier does carry added value due to his ability to play the three outfield positions. Along with a refined approach at the plate, Ethier has stressed the importance of remaining focused on the team’s goals. Currently just one game above .500, the Dodgers can surely benefit from having difficulty in deciding which outfielders to start because each is producing, rather than searching for an answer to fill a void.
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