The Los Angeles Dodgers ended the 2014 season with five outfielders on their roster. The logjam, a headache originating in 2013 with Yasiel Puig’s, figured to be cured prior to 2015 as the Dodgers surely wouldn’t endure another season under such circumstances, right?
Yes, Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres, however it was predated by the Dodgers acquiring Chris Heisey from the Cincinnati Reds — leaving them with five viable outfielders, or six when including Joc Pederson on the roster once all the dust settled.
While the situation could change before April 6 when the Dodgers face the San Diego Padres for Opening Day, manager Don Mattingly is staring at another juggling act for Spring Training.
Mattingly was among the Dodgers contingent that included president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi to meet with Andre Ethier — the perpetual odd man out in the outfield saga — after the outfielder’s arrival at Camelback Ranch.
Ethier viewed the meeting as an opportunity for the foursome to lay everything out on the table and came out of it with the impression he will be given the opportunity to contend for a starting job; however, he doesn’t believe that should come in center field given his age (33 years old).
Mattingly said Tuesday he wasn’t ready to discuss the outfield picture, but expressed confidence in Ethier’s ability to play multiple positions, including first base, via J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
Anywhere you put him on the field, I’m pretty confident,” Mattingly said. “I’m a guy that believes he can play first too.”
Putting Ethier at first base as a topic first broached in Spring Training last year, though under the assumption it would be part of a late-game double switch.
As Ethier was no longer part of the regular outfield picture, Mattingly said in August he wanted Ethier to grow comfortable playing first base. Ethier wound up playing three innings at first, three days after Mattingly’s remarks and admitted to being nervous at the position.
It was just the second time Ethier was inserted at first base in his career, with the time prior coming for one inning in 2010. Considering Ethier’s unfamiliarity in playing first base, his desire to start on a regular basis and Adrian Gonzalez rarely taking games off, a potential change is unlikely to satisfy Ethier.
Zack Greinke Isn’t Convinced The Dodgers Improved Over The Offseason