YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Ethier enjoys being a starter

June 09, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Andre Ethier said he is enjoying playing every day for the first time in his major league career, even if this isn't the way he wanted it to happen.

"The circumstances are unfortunate," Ethier said of Andruw Jones' injury, which gave him the starting job. "We'd like for this team to be whole and have all of weapons. But it's a situation where I'm getting the at-bats and I'm just going out there trying to prove that I can handle it and perform."

On Sunday, Ethier started for the 23rd time in the Dodgers' last 27 games. He began the game having hit safely in 11 of his previous 12 games and was batting .299 on the season with five home runs and 22 runs batted in.

"He's a natural .300 hitter," Manager Joe Torre said.

Ethier admitted that competing for playing time with Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp and Jones might've helped him.

"You've got to fight for your opportunity to play out there," he said. "We all knew what was going on before spring training started. We knew what situation we were in. We prepared ourselves with that."

Torre said he thinks the trouble Ethier has had hitting left-handers in recent weeks will go away.

Ethier started the season as a career .309 hitter against left-handers, but he is hitting .159 against them this season, prompting Torre to sit him when the Dodgers faced Jeff Francis of Colorado and Johan Santana of New York.


Kuroda lets go

Hiroki Kuroda said he remains uncertain how his arm will hold up over an entire season pitching every five days. In Japan, he pitched every six days.

"It's stressful," Kuroda said of his new schedule.

Kuroda said his fear of fading at the end of the season prevented him from delivering every pitch with everything he had until Friday, when he pitched the Dodgers' first complete-game shutout in three seasons.

"I'm thinking it's better for me not to think ahead," Kuroda said.


Jones recovering quickly

Jones is less than two weeks removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, but has already started hitting in batting cages.

"I feel like I can run, but they don't want me to run yet," Jones said.

Jones said he would travel with the Dodgers on their upcoming trip to San Diego, where he would start running and taking batting practice Tuesday.

Jones, who underwent surgery on May 27, wasn't expected to start baseball activities until a week later.

Jason Schmidt and backup catcher Gary Bennett, who are on the disabled list, could also travel to San Diego to work out.


LaRoche is OK

Infielder Andy LaRoche, who is said by Torre to be close to being called up from triple-A Las Vegas, was taken out of a game on Saturday after he was hit by a pitch on the middle finger of his right hand.

X-rays were negative and LaRoche played Sunday, going two for three.


Elbert is back

Left-hander Scott Elbert, the Dodgers' top pick in the 2004 draft, pitched 2 2/3 innings in two relief appearances for double-A Jacksonville last week.

The games were the first for Elbert since he underwent shoulder surgery last season.

Assistant General Manager De Jon Watson said that Elbert's fastball is back in the 88-92-mph range and that the plan is to ease Elbert back into a starting role.


Los Angeles Times Articles