Opening Day came and veteran outfielder Andre Ethier was again found himself on the bench for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ethier did get into the game as a pinch-hitter, but it was hardly the role he wanted coming into the season. The former All-Star was adamant about wanting to start this season, even if it meant a trade had to happen. The Dodgers were unable to find a suitor, and Ethier was unable to earn a starting spot, leaving the team in a tough spot that could worsen.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, manager Don Mattingly understands the situation at hand with his outfielder:
He knows where we’re at right now and that’s all I can do,” Mattingly said of Ethier. “If it was me, I can’t say I’d be happy, and I don’t expect him to be.”
The 32-year-old has started every Opening Day for the Dodgers the past eight seasons and now his starts will come here and there. It is now the second season in which he is the backup outfielder. Ethier did all he could this spring, hitting over .300 with 11 RBIs; however, it wasn’t enough to find himself in the starting lineup.
Ethier struggled last season, hitting .249 with four home runs and 42 RBIs in 130 games. He essentially became the fifth outfielder and was reduced to mostly pinch-hitting duties in the final months of 2014. The Dodgers are reportedly willing to take on half of Ethier’s contract in a potential deal, yet they have not found a deal for the one-time Gold Glover award winner.
Although he’s not a starter right now, Mattingly said that can change via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Any step can change his whole situation. If one guy takes a bad step, turns an ankle, Andre’s playing every day.”
It’s true that the Dodgers have seen plenty of injuries occur in recent years, but it’s not what they want to see in order to have Ethier in the everyday lineup.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Scott Van Slyke