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Andre Ethier's slump ends with grand slam

The slugger hits a home run to cap the Dodgers' six-run second inning in an 8-2 win over Seattle. Ethier had batted .121 in the first nine days of a 10-day trip, going four for 33.

June 10, 2012|By Jim Peltz

SEATTLE -- Until Sunday, it had been a rough trip for Andre Ethier as the Dodgers' right fielder struggled at the plate after a sizzling start this season.

But Ethier and Manager Don Mattingly both said before Sunday's game that they were unconcerned, with Mattingly saying "it's just a matter of time before he gets hot again."

That time came about three hours later when Ethier hit a grand slam to cap the Dodgers' six-run second inning in their 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.

The homer lifted Ethier's runs batted in total to 52, still tops in the National League, and he now has 10 home runs for the season.

Before Sunday, Ethier had batted .121 (four for 33) in the first nine days of the 10-day trip, with no home runs and two doubles. His season average had dropped to .294 from .324 when the trip began.

The grand slam "was a nice way to top it off," Ethier said of his recent slump.

Earlier in the trip, "I was hitting balls and squared up a few" but often "they were just not falling in," Ethier said. "And guys are pitching me a little tougher and are not going to let me beat them on any count."

Ethier, who had season-ending surgery on his right knee last Sept. 14, said the slump did not stem from any sort of injury. "Everything feels good, nothing is bothering me at all," he said.

During past slumps, Ethier, 30, has been prone to considerable frustration. But Mattingly said that wasn't the case on this trip, a change "that is encouraging for me. He hasn't been fighting himself."

Ethier also confirmed that he was invited to this year's Home Run Derby at the All-Star game by teammate Matt Kemp, the derby's NL captain. Kemp is currently on the disabled list.

Uribe due back

Third baseman Juan Uribe, who has been on the disabled list with a sore left wrist, could rejoin the club as early as Monday, Mattingly said.

Uribe, out of the lineup since May 13, has been playing with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga as part of his rehabilitation.

Once he returns, Uribe is "pretty much the everyday guy over" at third base, Mattingly said. "He's our best defender over there. And when he was healthy he was swinging the bat good."

But Mattingly said the Dodgers would continue to rest Uribe "a couple of days a week," which would allow "me the freedom to play different guys" at third base.

Soler interest

The Dodgers are among several clubs interested in signing highly touted Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, according to people familiar with the matter but who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Soler's decision about which team he'll join could come as early as this week, the sources said.

The 20-year-old outfielder, who's expected to sign a multiyear deal for upward of $20 million, also reportedly is being pursued by the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, among other teams.

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