To be fair to Gonzalez, who played the first six innings at first base Sunday before Ethier took over, he made a fantastic over-the-shoulder running catch of a Jean Segura pop-up in the sixth inning. The ball probably would have landed fair; at least it would have been close.
But Ethier didn’t flub any of the five balls thrown his way, which is more than Gonzalez could say. Gonzalez’s error in the second inning — dropping a catchable throw from second baseman Dee Gordon at close range — allowed the Brewers to score three unearned runs against Dan Haren in the Dodgers’ 7-2 loss.
Ethier still wasn’t ready to match Gonzalez’s confidence at his new position after the game. Asked if he felt comfortable at first base, the word “yes” didn’t come to Ethier’s lips.
“It’s either or,” he said. “Either we’re down a lot or up a lot. Either way, we can go out there and just get that time and some game reps out there. You can take all the ground balls you want during batting practice. Game speed is a whole ‘nother thing.”
It’s not like Ethier had a good chance to get his feet wet. There were no ground balls hit remotely in his direction. No situation forced him to decide whether he should cover first base or try to field a baseball.
Look at the Brewers’ spray chart. It’s almost as if they knew the Dodgers were using a guy with a borrowed mitt, who’s played one inning at first base since 2002, and didn’t want to pile on to their 7-0 lead:
Of the mitt, one Gonzalez used earlier in the season, Ethier said: “I was going to use my outfield glove. I don’t care.”
So it was an uneventful three innings, but an interesting one on some level. Ethier will make $15.5 million this season and at least another $56 million before his contract expires. He is three years removed from a Gold Glove award in right field.
Yet there he was, mopping up at first base during a dreary August blowout, grinding through another day of his worst major-league season at a new position at age 32.
You might not care what glove you were wearing, either.