MESA, Ariz. —
Now, with an entire spring to prepare himself to play the position, Ethier expects to be more comfortable in the middle of the outfield this season than he was last.
"I think you learn some of the finer points that come with that position, the things that you're able to do, how you cut off balls," he said.
But Ethier's focus extends beyond center field. Considered the most versatile of the
Ethier played center field Friday but was in left the day before.
"You see across the board, I think more managers are searching for players like that," he said. "You want three or four guys on the team so you can use and interchange them and make your team better as a whole."
Ethier said the idea of moving him to first base as part of a late-game double switch has been discussed with him. He hasn't practiced at first base but said with a smile, "I'm going to do it the way I did center field last year, just go out and do it."
Ethier is also hoping to rediscover the offensive form that made him a two-time All-Star. He had a down year offensively last season, batting .272 with 12 home runs and 52 runs batted in.
"I'm progressing nicely," he said. "We worked hard all off-season with the staff here and we worked hard this
He was one for two with a double and a walk Friday, raising his spring average to .364.
With the thumb on his pitching hand still bothering him, right-hander
"It's just sore," he said. "It's not getting worse, but it's not getting better."
Beckett said he still has trouble gripping a curveball.
That didn't prevent him from pitching well. Relying on a mix of fastballs and changeups, Beckett held the
"I always feel if I'm getting ground balls, I'll be fine," he said.
Beckett is expected to remain in Arizona on Sunday when the Dodgers depart for their season-opening two games in Australia.
The Dodgers won't have to use their fifth starter until a couple weeks into April, making Beckett a probable candidate to open the season on the disabled list. Such a move would allow the Dodgers to retain an extra relief pitcher or bench player.