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Andre Ethier moves to left field; when Carl Crawford returns, best lineup plays

June 27, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Andre Ethier got the start in left field for the Dodgers against Philadelphia on Thursday.
Andre Ethier got the start in left field for the Dodgers against Philadelphia… (Justin K. Aller / Getty Images )

It’s Andre Ethier, a man for all fields.

Ethier has spent most all of his career in right field, but moved to center when Matt Kemp spent most of the month on the disabled list, and he played it very well.

But Thursday he was moved again, this time starting in left field, with Kemp in center and Yasiel Puig and his rifle arm moving to right.

And this figures to be the team’s main defensive alignment in the foreseeable future, or until left-fielder Carl Crawford returns and things get real interesting.

“This is more of the look I kind of picture with these guys,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “I also think left-field is easier to play left-handed, with the spin going towards the line.”

Ethier played a lot of left field early in his career but hasn’t been out there since 2008. But Ethier made the adjustment so effortlessly in center, Mattingly is confident his move to left will be fairly seamless.

“I’m sure he’ll still not be totally comfortable, but I think Dre has shown his true versatility,” Mattingly said. “He won a Gold Glove the other year in right. He’s shown he gets good jumps in center, which tells us he can play anywhere. He’s been willing to do it. Both of those guys have been great. Both Yasiel and Andre are both, `Hey, any way you want.’ That makes it a lot easier.”

Puig has the most powerful arm in the Dodgers organization, so Mattingly is playing him in right, where the outfielder is sometimes required to throw across the field to third.

“He really profiles there just with the arm,” Mattingly said.

Meanwhile, Mattingly said Crawford (strained hamstring) is running well at the team’s facility in Arizona and nearing a rehab assignment. Mattingly hopes to have him back sometime during the Dodgers' next trip, July 2-10.

When Crawford returns, Mattingly will have to juggle four outfielders for three spots. And although he plans to give all four playing time, Mattingly said it doesn’t mean the time will be equal.

“I’m not going to try to equal it out,” he said. “I’m going to try to put the best lineup out.”

That means, barring a trade, three ex-All Stars and a rookie sensation will actually be battling for playing time.

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