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Dodgers' Andre Ethier is feeling healthier than he has in long time

Outfielder doesn't have any ailments or injuries, as in previous seasons, but is struggling at the plate. He says there's nothing with his swing or approach.

May 11, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier entered Saturday batting .235 with three home runs and 10 runs batted in depsite being in his best health in years.
Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier entered Saturday batting .235 with three… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Every season, Andre Ethier seems to be bothered by something different.

His thumb. His knee. His toe. His ankle.

But not this season.

"I think this is the healthiest I've been in four, five years and the best I've felt every day," the Dodgers outfielder said. "Something's not adding up."

Ethier began Saturday batting .235 with three home runs and 10 runs batted in.

Laughing, Ethier recalled how the team's medical services director, Stan Conte, jokingly told him, "Maybe we should slam a hammer on your toe or something and ding you up."

The left-handed-hitting Ethier has historically hit right-handers far better than he has left-handers. This season, it's the opposite, as he was batting .255 against left-handers and .222 against right-handers through Friday.

Ethier, who drove in a career-high 109 runs in 2009 and 89 last season, was batting only .176 with runners in scoring position.

Ethier insisted there is nothing wrong with his swing or approach.

"I've squared up a lot of balls," Ethier said. "I've had a lot of good swings. I haven't had much to show for it."

Manager Don Mattingly offered a different view.

"For me, it just seems like a little bit of a different guy," Mattingly said. "Less use of the whole field, more pull. The at-bats seem to be over with quick, for the most part. I can't say they're all bad. He's hitting some balls hard."

Mattingly thinks opposing pitchers have found new ways to approach Ethier.

"We have to continue to make adjustments," Mattingly said. "It's always cat and mouse. What's he doing to me? What's he trying to do to me? What am I trying to do with him? I feel like they've made an adjustment to him and he hasn't made an adjustment back. I can't say exactly what they're doing to him, but obviously, they're pitching him differently. They're not just going to give him something to crush."

The once-temperamental right fielder has maintained a calm facade during his early-season slump. But Ethier said that shouldn't be misinterpreted as indifference on behalf of him or his teammates.

Ethier talked about the sleepless nights he has had over the last few weeks, adding, "I definitely understand the grief the fans go through, but I can say a lot of the players are taking it as hard, if not harder. There's a lot of pride. For me individually, for Matt [Kemp], for a lot of the guys who have been here for a long time, to see how we've played, it eats you up inside."

Short hops

A day after pitching in a Class-A game, Zack Greinke said he feels ready to pitch for the Dodgers on Wednesday. The decision of whether he will pitch in the majors or minors will be made by team doctors, Mattingly said. … Fernando Valenzuela will sign autographs at noon in Parking Lot 6 as part of Mother's Day festivities on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Valenzuela's appearance will be part of a Viva Los Dodgers event, which is scheduled to start at 10:40 a.m. … The series finale against the Miami Marlins will be the first of 11 games for which Adrian Gonzalez will purchase tickets for 18 families of four. The families he will invite Sunday are affiliated with Padres Contra El Cancer, an organization that aids cancer-stricken Latino children and their families.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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