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Ethier is working out at first base

Times Staff Writer

Left fielder Andre Ethier has been taking ground balls at first base for the past week, he said, “in case we ever need a backup or a backup to the backup.”

Manager Joe Torre said working out Ethier at first could increase the flexibility of the Dodgers’ lineup by creating opportunities to double switch, or replace starter James Loney if he slumps or needs a day off. On a day when Loney is on the bench, Torre said he would probably start Ethier over Mark Sweeney because he wants to keep the experienced Sweeney available as a pinch-hitting option.

Congestion in the outfield is also a reason for the experiment.

“Especially when you have the four outfielders and you have somebody that does something else, it gives you another opportunity to get [everyone] at-bats,” Torre said. “It’s not something we’re planning on doing that will be a regular scheduled thing.”

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Ethier said he last played first base as a sophomore at Arizona State. He said he took grounders at the position when he was with Oakland’s double-A affiliate in 2005 because of injuries on the major league club.

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Chan Ho Park’s minor league assignment won’t last long, as the Dodgers will purchase his contract from triple-A Las Vegas before their game today in San Diego.

Their loss on Wednesday to the San Francisco Giants, during which they used five pitchers in part because of an hour-plus rain delay, made it necessary that they add a 12th pitcher for the upcoming series.

To clear room for Park on the 25- and 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated backup infielder Angel Chavez for assignment.

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The three-game suspension that third base coach Larry Bowa was handed on Wednesday is expected to stand despite a request by General Manager Ned Colletti for Bowa’s ejection-drawing tirade on Tuesday night to be reviewed, a spokesman for the commissioner’s office said. Colletti made a call Wednesday night to Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president of on-field operations.

Bowa, who was already fined for his heated protest of baseball’s new rule that restricts where base coaches can stand, could face an additional fine for critical comments he made Wednesday about the suspension.

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Bowa claimed he received the “ludicrous” punishment because Watson has “an agenda against me.”

When sent an e-mail asking if he wanted to comment on Bowa’s comments, Watson replied with a one-word message: “NO!”

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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