As with the past two years, the Los Angeles Dodgers again find themselves with a crowded outfield picture to sort out during Spring Training.
Among the players competing for a starting spot in the outfield, perhaps none has a bigger uphill battle than Andre Ethier. The 32 year old is entering his 10th season with the Dodgers, has two All-star campaigns in 2010 and 2011 to his name, but lost his starting spot last season due in large part to lack of production.
While manager Don Mattingly credited Ethier for his handling of the difficult situation, the outfielder let it be known he isn’t interested in another season without consistent playing time and if that won’t be the case, Ethier said he would like to be traded.
When asked Wednesday ahead of the Dodgers’ Cactus League opener if Ethier has anything to prove this spring, Mattingly didn’t necessarily believe so. “Again, I think Dre has to get ready,” he said. “As I said, veteran guys don’t necessarily have to show us they can play. But obviously he’s made the statement that he wants to play every day so I assume he’s going to want to go out and kind of knock the door down.”
Given Ethier’s strong stance on wanting to start, it may lend to the belief his workouts have been more intense. However, Mattingly hasn’t noticed a change, though that isn’t a knock on Ethier. “No, he looks good,” he said. “Dre is a hard worker, Dre’s been solid all over the outfield, he’s a hard worker. We went with what we went with last year.”
Ethier had his worst season with the Dodgers in 2014, batting .249 with four home runs and 42 RBIs, which all were career-lows. Ethier earned the start in center field on Wednesday and had a rough day both at the plate and on the field.
The former Gold Glove Award winner was unable to come up with a catch in deep center that resulted in a two-out RBI-double for Adam LaRoche in the third inning that gave the Chicago White Sox a 3-0 lead; he didn’t fare much better with the bat, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.
Wednesday likely wasn’t the final time Ethier will start or play center field as Mattingly reiterated he’ll shuffle his group of outfielders throughout the spring.
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