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Andre Ethier finally locates the power switch

The Dodgers right fielder, whose home-run stroke has been largely missing since early last season, goes deep twice in 4-1 victory over San Diego.

July 10, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier watches his second home run of the game against the Padres on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier watches his second home run of the game… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Perhaps for the first time this season, Andre Ethier looked like the power hitter he says he still considers himself to be.

Ethier had his first multi-home run game this season in the Dodgers' 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday, hitting solo homers in the fifth and eighth innings.

"I'm not going to say it isn't nice," Ethier said.

The home runs were Ethier's eighth and ninth of the season. He was homerless in his previous 15 games.

Ethier said recently that he hasn't felt entirely comfortable at the plate this season, something he reiterated Sunday.

"I'm still tinkering, trying to figure things out. It's been a constant battle."

Ethier's power outage dates to when he broke a pinkie finger last year. Before the injury, he hit 11 home runs in 33 games. Since then, he has hit 21 home runs in 196 games.

"I don't think there are any holdovers from last year," Ethier said.

Manager Don Mattingly agreed, saying, "I've watched his swing. It's still the same."

Flippo returns to center stage

At some point Monday evening, Rob Flippo will be one of two people at the center of the baseball universe.

The Dodgers' bullpen catcher will be pitching to Matt Kemp in the home run derby.

But Flippo, who throws batting practice to Kemp almost every day, said he isn't nervous because of what he has seen.

"Matt's a true power hitter," Flippo said. "He doesn't square it up to hit one out of the ballpark. Obviously, like most guys, he wants to be able to get his hands out. But, really, I can throw balls in and he can keep it fair and drive balls out to left. I can throw it out, he can get extended, hit the ball the other way. So there's a lot of room for error for me."

This will be Flippo's second derby; he also pitched to the Dodgers' last participant, Hee-Seop Choi, in 2005.

Flippo said he was surprised to be told that the five home runs Choi hit in 2005 were the most ever hit by a Dodger in the event.

"Everyone gave me a hard time because he didn't hit more," Flippo said.

Castro retires

Infielder Juan Castro, who played 17 seasons in the major leagues, has retired. He played with the Dodgers for three weeks — promoted from triple-A Albuquerque on May 13 and designated for assignment June 6.

Castro, who batted .229 in his career and spent parts of eight seasons in Los Angeles, will remain with the Dodgers in a front-office capacity. He will be involved in player development and evaluation.

Post-break rotation set

Clayton Kershaw remains scheduled to pitch in the Dodgers' first game after the All-Star break, Friday in Arizona. Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly will face the Diamondbacks on Saturday and Sunday.

Lining up that way allows Chad Billingsley to face the division-leading San Francisco Giants on July 18. Billingsley will be followed in the rotation by Rubby De La Rosa. Kershaw will pitch the final game of the San Francisco series.

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