Why Carl Crawford, instead of Andre Ethier, is Dodgers' left fielder

Carl Crawford has had the majority of starts in left field for the Dodgers in recent games

Andre Ethier has started only three of the Dodgers’ last 17 games. He will be on the bench again Monday when the Dodgers open a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

With Yasiel Puig set in center field and Matt Kemp in right, Manager Don Mattingly has made Carl Crawford -- and not Ethier -- his primary left fielder.

But Crawford isn’t hitting. Crawford has started 13 of the Dodgers’ last 17 games and has batted only .196 during that stretch.

So why has Mattingly settled with Crawford as his primary left fielder?

“Carl, before he got hurt, was probably swinging the bat better than anyone we had,” Mattingly said. “I feel like Carl’s going to get back to that.”

When Crawford was placed on the disabled list May 28 because of a sprained left ankle, he was batting .267 with four home runs, 18 runs batted in and nine steals in 44 games.

“If you really look at our numbers, he had as high a percentage of balls hit on the nose as anyone we’ve got,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he also likes how Crawford adds speed and versatility to the lineup.

That has made the left-handed-hitting Crawford the Dodgers’ first-choice left fielder on days when they face a right-handed pitcher. Right-handed-hitting Scott Van Slyke draws most of the starts at the position when the Dodgers face a left-handed pitcher.

That leaves Ethier the odd man out on most days. Of the three games Ethier has started since June 22, one was as a center fielder in place of a fatigued Puig and another was in an interleague game in which the designated hitter was available. The other time Ethier started, he played only five innings.

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World