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Dodgers' Andre Ethier has retooled his swing

Outfielder says there were mechanical issues even during his 30-game hitting streak that contributed to a recent slump, from which he has emerged.

May 31, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier says there was something wrong with his swing during his 30-game hitting streak.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier says there was something wrong with… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is starting to emerge from his recent two-week slump, something he said is a result of breaking some bad habits he developed during his 30-game hitting streak at the start of the season.

Ethier began Tuesday's game batting .571 (eight for 14) with two doubles, a home run and four runs batted in over the first four games of the Dodgers' current homestand.

He credited Manager Don Mattingly's decision to hold him out of the lineup from Friday to Sunday in Houston. He said he spent those three days working on his swing.

"Balance, hands, body positioning, everything," he said.

Ethier said there was something mechanically wrong with his swing during his hitting streak, which spanned from April 2 to May 6.

"I don't think I ever had a good feeling during the streak, really," Ethier said. "I was just getting hits. I think that was the problem."

The way he tells it, his success reinforced what he was doing wrong.

Of the 46 hits Ethier collected during his streak, only three were home runs.

"It's tough to hit for power the way I was hitting, where I was mechanically," he said.

Ethier said he remembered what former Dodgers manager Joe Torre used to tell him: "Rather than go up there and flip a single, go up there and try to drive the ball. That's why you're in the middle of the lineup."

When the streak ended, Ethier's form dipped significantly. In the 15 games that followed the streak, he batted .145.

He said he is close to overcoming the types of thoughts that ran through his head at that time.

"You step in the batter's box and you wonder if your hands are in the right position, you get your stance right, getting your weight right, thinking about it rather than have it come natural," he said.

Dodgers in All-Star contention

Ethier was fourth and Matt Kemp was fifth among National League outfielders in the first round of All-Star balloting, which was released Tuesday.

Ethier, who was selected an All-Star starter last season, received 776,971 votes. Kemp had 549,215.

Ethier is fewer than 100,000 votes behind Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals (872,434 votes), who holds the third and final starting spot. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers (971,809) and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals were the top two vote getters among NL outfielders.

Balloting at stadiums will conclude June 24. Online balloting at runs through June 30.

Padilla is close to returning

Reliever Vicente Padilla could be activated as early as Friday for the Dodgers' series opener in Cincinnati, Mattingly said.

In what could be his final tune up before his return, Padilla pitched two scoreless innings for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He got five groundouts.

Padilla, who has saved three games, has been on the disabled list since May 14 because of nerve irritation in his throwing arm.

Short hops

Those attending the Dodgers' series finale against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday will receive a Mattingly bobblehead. … Juan Uribe (left hip) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday or Friday. … Marcus Thames (quadriceps), who is on a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Albuquerque, could be physically ready to return by the end of the Dodgers' series in Philadelphia on June 6-8. The Dodgers start a four-game series in Colorado on June 9.

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