As the Los Angeles Dodgers have made their final push into the postseason, it’s come with a more consistent lineup from manager Don Mattingly.
Some of the ability to send the same lineup out on a daily basis is tied to the Dodgers generally having good health. That’s particularly been true for the outfield, where Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig emerged as Mattingly’s preferred alignment.
With that, Andre Ethier’s role as a spot starter has further been reduced. Prior to Monday’s game, Mattingly acknowledged Ethier isn’t happy with the outfield situation, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
Mattingly on Ethier: "He's not happy with the situation. But he's going to be a good teammate."
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 22, 2014
Ethier has played in 127 games this season and even taking into account him possibly playing in the final five regular season games, it will be the first time he’s played in less than 135 games since 2006, which was his rookie season.
The last start Ethier made was Sept. 7 and he’s appeared as a pinch-hitter in eight games since that point. He began the season as the center fielder and was then regulated to platooning with Crawford in left field.
Kemp’s benching and removal from center field returned Ethier to that position before he was unseated by Puig. Publicly, Ethier hasn’t said much about the trying situation other than questioning his role, which was preceded by his stating he’s focused on the team’s goals and not a personal agenda.
Mattingly recently hinted at the off-season being the time when roster decisions would likely need to be made and he would keep his sights on the pennant race and not Ethier’s playing time.
Including Tuesday, the Dodgers have five regular season games remaining and at this point are guaranteed at worst a Wild Card game.