With injuries to their two corner outfielders in the first month of the season, it would have appeared that the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a road block.
Yasiel Puig (hamstring) and Carl Crawford (ankle) are both on the disabled list, and in their absence Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has turned to the team’s depth to replace them.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Mattingly has not turned to just one guy to contribute off the bench, but he has mixed and matched guys, and it has led to success:
Put it like this for all the guys: There are a lot of factors for who and when, and some of it is the pitcher that night, sometimes it’s about defense and sometimes it’s day game after night game,” Mattingly said.
One outfielder that has been filling in nicely is Andre Ethier. The 33-year-old, who is in his 10th season with the team and is the longest tenured Dodger, is batting .317 with a .417 on-base percentage and four homers in 23 games so far this season. Mattingly had a lot of praise for his veteran outfielder:
It’s nice to have good players and he’s been really good,” he said. “It creates more competition and that’s good for the club as long as it’s in the context of winning. Dre’s been really big for us. He’s so flexible with where he can play on the field and he’s had good at-bats off the bench.”
Other Dodgers bench players that have been impressive so far this season include Alex Guerrero, Scott Van Slyke and Justin Turner. None of them are getting to play every day, but they are all taking advantage of the opportunities they are getting. Guerrero is leading the team, batting .364, Van Slyke is third (.342) and Turner is not far behind, batting .293.
The Dodgers bench was one of their biggest strengths in 2014, and that appears to be the case once again in 2015.
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