Andre Ethier has become the odd man out in the outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers since Carl Crawford’s return from the disabled list.
Manager Don Mattingly has elected to go with Crawford in left field, Yasiel Puig in center field and Matt Kemp in right field after a year of mixing and matching. Ethier has found himself on the outside looking in, with an occasional pinch-hit or spot start.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Mattingly wants Ethier to work on another position to become more versatile:
I’ve always liked him over there. His actions are good,” Mattingly said. “I want to get him more comfortable. I’d like to have that option. If something happens to Adrian, we’ve only got Scott Van Slyke. I want to get him to do a few more things. It’s not just take a few grounders. He has to get the ball out of a bigger glove, the footwork around the bag and getting used to the speed of ground balls.”
Ethier has played one career inning at first base back in 2010. He is a perfect candidate to learn the position because of his left-handedness and need for playing time. While he may not get to play much, he would give Mattingly a reason to possibly pinch-run for Gonzalez late in the game to get an extra run. The 32-year-old Ethier has been on the decline in recent years and learning a new position will add to his value.
This season, Ethier has struggled at the plate, hitting .247 with four home runs and 39 RBIs in 98 games. He has spent time at all three outfield spots with the majority coming in center field before Puig took over and after Kemp was moved. It is unlikely that Ethier would take any playing time away, but would give the Dodgers options.
Dodgers Outfielder Andre Ethier Surprises Middle School Students