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DODGERS REPORT

Ethier takes his displacement in stride

May 06, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers' opening-day left fielder has been out of the starting lineup for three of the last four games, but Andre Ethier wasn't about to raise a ruckus about it.

"I am not in a position to say anything about it," Ethier said before the Dodgers played the New York Mets on Monday at Dodger Stadium. "Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it."

Ethier has been displaced by the hot-hitting Juan Pierre, who entered the game batting .563 this month with nine hits in his last 16 at-bats. Pierre has started five straight games, his longest stretch of consecutive starts this season.

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said he didn't make room for Pierre so much as Pierre wriggled his way into the lineup with his scorching play.

"He's the one that's doing this, not me," Torre said. "He's playing his tail off -- not that he doesn't always work as hard as he's working now -- but the results have been really good."

With Pierre, Ethier and Matt Kemp accounting for three of his team's top five batting averages entering Monday, Torre finds himself in the midst of a daily juggling act. Benching struggling center fielder Andruw Jones for an extended stretch does not appear to be an option because Torre said the Dodgers "need to get Andruw back on track."

Asked when he might reach the point when he wanted to bench Jones, Torre said somewhat emphatically, "I can't. I can't do it. He needs to perform here if we're going to do something special."

Torre said Pierre would continue to start "as long as I'm comfortable watching him and he seems to be comfortable with what he's doing, because he brings a nice dimension. He doesn't give you that power threat obviously that Andre does . . . but at the top of the lineup, with him and [Rafael] Furcal and Matt getting on base, it causes disturbances for the other team."

Ethier, on the bench despite hitting .303 with three homers and 15 runs batted in, refused to cause a disturbance in the clubhouse.

"I accept whatever decision's made," he said. "If I'm in, I'm in. If I'm not, I'm not."

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Third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, on the disabled list since April 26 because of a strained left calf, reported no discomfort after he resumed hitting and throwing during batting practice. Garciaparra will next progress to running, though he doesn't know when that might be.

"We don't want to take anything backward, so we know the process is going to take time," Garciaparra said.

Torre said Garciaparra might need to complete a minor league rehabilitation assignment depending on how quickly he progresses. Is his spot as the everyday third baseman secure upon his return?

"He really didn't do anything wrong, he just got hurt," Torre said. "I think he certainly needs an opportunity to pick that up."

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Jason Schmidt, recovering from shoulder surgery, is scheduled to pitch a simulated game today and could begin a rehabilitation assignment this weekend. . . . Third baseman Tony Abreu was two for four in an extended spring training game. . . . Former general manager Emil J. "Buzzie" Bavasi, who died last week, was honored during a pregame ceremony in which broadcaster Vin Scully and former Dodgers great Don Newcombe paid tribute.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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