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Andre Ethier starts his case to hit against left-handers

March 06, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier will be looking for more production off left-handed pitching this season.
Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier will be looking for more production… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )

Spring training is a lot like marriage, a constant mix of the good and bad. This guy looks poised for a breakout year, this guy is struggling. This hitter is on fire, this pitcher is melting. The wife is ageless, the husband is resembling a latter Orson Wells. Or something like that.

On Day 2 of the Dodgers’ 2012 spring season, they naturally received early doses of both good and bad, none of which can be taken too seriously, though that’s partly why we love spring training.

They lost 8-4 to the Giants Tuesday, which being spring wouldn’t even qualify as bad news, except it was against the Giants.

The good news had to start with Andre Ethier. Manager Don “Tutu” Mattingly has hinted that Ethier, coming off knee surgery and a disappointing season, might see increased platoon time this season against left-handed pitchers.

Last year Ethier hit .220 against left-handers, with .258 on-base and .305 slugging percentages. Which was even down from career marks of .242, .302 and .359.

So Ethier comes up for the first time this spring against a left-handed starting pitcher, and promptly sent it over the right-field fence. Granted, the left-hander was Barry Zito, the $126-million washout, but it still counts. It equaled how many homers Ethier hit all last spring.

The not-so-good news had to lead off with Ted Lilly, who you might say had one of those early spring outings. Lilly gave up two home runs in the first inning. He gave up five runs on six hits in two innings.

Last season, Lilly had enormous problems giving up the long ball. He allowed 28 home runs on the season, though none in his last six starts.

Switch-hitter Melky Cabrera, the greatest off-season acquisition in the history of sport, hit one homer off Lilly, and then added a second off Ramon Troncoso in the sixth.

The Dodgers used eight pitchers, the only one not allowing a hit being Josh Lindblom. The right-hander picked up one strikeout in the fifth.

And for those who wouldn’t believe it until they saw it, Ronald Belisario made his first appearance of the spring. He was not wearing his visa. The last time he was seen wearing blue was in 2010.

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