Andre Ethier was back in the lineup Friday against a left-handed pitcher, Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies. This is noteworthy because Ethier was not in the lineup when the Dodgers faced Padres left-hander Clayton Richard two days ago in San Diego.
On Thursday, Don Mattingly shared his thoughts on the disparity between Ethier’s batting average against right-handers (.325) and left-handers (.214).
“He’s got a great swing,” Mattingly said. “He understands his swing. I guess, see I have trouble understanding [why Ethier hits so much worse against left-handers] because his swing’s so short. He just should be able to hit them. Maybe he doesn’t see the ball good off lefties. It could be he’s not picking ’em up right. He’s having trouble picking up the left-handed pitcher, the ball’s moving away from him more. Most left-handers are going to be a little funky, the ball’s moving away from you. Whatever it is, obviously the numbers are a huge difference. It’s a huge differential. So I think it’s something that we seriously have to look at as far as how we approach it. I can say all day long that he’s capable of hitting lefties but if the numbers keep telling us he can’t then we have to go a different route.”
It’s been suggested that Mattingly could be leaning toward making Ethier part of a platoon — using him against right-handers and another player, say, Juan Rivera, against left-handers. That’s what Mattingly did Wednesday, and Rivera responded by hitting a home run.
But Ethier’s lifetime numbers against Francis (.308 with a double in 26 at-bats) got him back in the lineup.
The Dodgers are scheduled to face two more left-handed starters this season — Sunday (Jorge De La Rosa) and Tuesday (Barry Zito).