Over the course of the last two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 25-man roster has been one carrying a surplus of outfielders. Injuries at times made manager Don Mattingly’s decision on who to start an easier process, though last season was far from a walk in the park.
Andre Ethier saw regular playing time in the early stages of the year, then struggled to see the field after Mattingly settled on Carl Crawford in left field, Yasiel Puig in center and Matt Kemp in right. Ethier called 2014 the most humbling season of his career and came into Spring Training with an open desire to start every day — whether it be in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
With 13 Cactus League games under his belt this year, Ethier is batting .303/.378/.455 with one home run (hit Saturday) and seven RBIs. While he’s been impressive at the plate in recent games, he isn’t giving his offensive production or that of his teammates much attention, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
I don’t even know what anyone’s hitting. I don’t know what I’m hitting,” Ethier said. “Spring numbers are a tough thing to define and look at, especially for myself. I hit four-something last year and look how my season ended up. You just try to get yourself in a good rhythm.”
Ethier also isn’t worrying about what the future may hold:
I’m here until I hear otherwise,” Ethier said. “I’m not out there shaking hands. I’m just going out and playing for this team right now.”
On multiple occasions this spring, Mattingly has credited Ethier for his work ethic, professionalism, and maintained he’s being considered for a spot in the outfield. With Puig clearly the club’s right fielder and Mattingly’s previous history suggesting he prefers Crawford in left, it leaves Ethier competing to start in center field.
At his age, Ethier doesn’t believe it’s the position he’s best suited for on a full-time basis. Also working against him is Joc Pederson, touted as the organization’s best true center fielder, is batting .472/.513/.833 this spring.
While Mattingly has yet to name a starter, he recently praised Pederson for his play and the smart money would be on the 22-year-old wunderkind being in center field for the Dodgers come Opening Day.
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