SAN DIEGO — Should Hanley Ramirez be moved from shortstop to third base next season? Should Andre Ethier be a platoon player?
These are two questions the Dodgers might have to address in the near future, Manager Don Mattingly acknowledged Thursday.
Ramirez was a shortstop his entire career until this season, when the Miami Marlins moved him to third base to accommodate free-agent addition Jose Reyes. Ramirez switched back to his old position when he moved to the Dodgers in July, as a thumb injury to Dee Gordon created a vacancy at shortstop. But Ramirez's play at shortstop has been uneven.
Asked whether he thought Ramirez should be moved back to third base next season, Mattingly replied, "I don't think it's a discussion for right now. I think it's a discussion for the winter."
Mattingly insisted Ramirez is capable of being a solid shortstop.
But Mattingly had previously said he views Gordon as the shortstop of the future. The Dodgers could also pursue a shortstop in free agency.
If Ramirez is moved back to third base, the Dodgers would have to find a new position for Luis Cruz, who entered Friday batting .302 in 71 games. Cruz has played shortstop, but the organization appears skeptical of his ability to be an everyday player there. Second baseman Mark Ellis, the team's best defensive infielder, is under contract for next season.
Ethier could also be a subject of discussion this winter.
Ethier entered Thursday batting .329 against right-handers, but only .215 against left-handers. Fifteen of Ethier's 19 home runs had come against right-handers.
Mattingly sat Ethier for the Dodgers' must-win game Wednesday, when the San Diego Padres started left-hander Clayton Richard.
Mattingly hinted Ethier could be relegated to a platoon role.
"I can say all day long that I think he's capable of hitting against lefties, but if the numbers keep telling us that maybe he can't, then we have to go a different route," he said.
Mattingly thinks Ethier might not have the right approach.
"I think part of is just the thinking against lefties," Mattingly said. "You have to have some type of plan when you walk up there."
But Mattingly has been saying this about Ethier for years. Has Ethier not been able develop the right strategy to face left-handers? Or is he ignoring Mattingly's advice?
"I'm sure he has a plan," Mattingly said. "He's a smart hitter. He understands his swing."
Mattingly was momentarily at a loss for words.
"I have trouble understanding it because his swing's so short," he said. "He just should be able to hit them. But maybe he doesn't see the ball good off the lefty."
Clayton Kershaw remains scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Friday, when they host the Colorado Rockies. … Mark Ellis, who is recovering from the flu, missed his second consecutive game. … Fernando Valenzuela, Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez and Cruz will be among the past and present players signing autographs for fans Saturday at La Gran Fiesta Viva Los Dodgers. The event will start at 2 p.m. in Lot P of Dodger Stadium. … John Ely was named the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year and Class-A outfielder Joc Pederson their minor league player of the year. Called up to the major leagues this month, Ely won the Pacific Coast League's triple crown of pitching. He won 14 games, struck out 165 batters and posted a 3.20 earned-run average for triple-A Albuquerque. Pederson, 20, was the Dodgers' 11th-round pick in the 2010 draft. He hit .313 with 18 home runs, 70 runs batted in and 26 steals for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.