Dodger right fielder Andre Ethier watches his two-run home run clear the… (Mark Duncan / Associated…)
Andre Ethier has been the best part of the Dodgers this spring.
It’s not that he’s having a nice spring – he’s having a great one – but that more than any other player, they need ol' Jekyll and Hyde to have a strong season.
Any chance the Dodgers have of rising up from a club that was barely above .500 last season to a contender in this one pretty much starts with Ethier returning to his line-drive, slugging self.
Since there was no significant offseason addition to the lineup, improvement rests with improved play by Juan Uribe, James Loney and Ethier. And of the three, only Ethier has demonstrated 30-homer, 100-RBI ability.
Ethier has been driving the ball almost from the moment he arrived at Camelback this spring, and he continued it Tuesday with a two-run homer to lead the Dodgers to a 7-6 victory over the Brewers.
He drove in another run with a groundout, and leads the Dodgers this spring in RBI (9), doubles (6), triples (2), hits (11) and runs (9), while batting .444. Ten of his 11 hits have been for extra bases.
Ethier started last season hot, putting together a 30-game hitting streak. But his power game slipped, and after hitting .311 with a .463 slugging percentage the first half, he hit .252 and .339.
Ultimately he complained of a sore knee and had surgery in September. This spring, Ethier claims he is healthy, and he’s certainly looked like it.
Dodgers also received good production Tuesday from their new double-play combo. They got three hits (including a stand-up triple) and a pair of runs from shortstop Dee Gordon, and two hits, two runs and three RBI from Mark Ellis.
Chad Billingsley started, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing three two-out runs on five hits and a pair of walks. He struck out four.
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