Andre Ethier smiled when asked about how Manager Don Mattingly hinted he might be turned into a platoon player next season.
“Luckily, there are a lot of righties,” Ethier said.
Ethier entered Friday batting .214 against left-handers and .325 against right-handers.
“Sometimes you hit, sometimes you don’t,” he said.
The previous day, Mattingly sounded mystified when he talked about Ethier’s problems hitting left-handed pitching. The manager went as far to suggest the Dodgers might consider having Ethier split time in right field with a right-handed hitter who would face left-handed pitchers.
For his part, Ethier said he wants to remain an everyday player.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?” he asked.
In the coming years, Ethier will earn several times what the average platoon player makes. He signed a five-year, $85-million contract extension this spring.
Asked if he shared Mattingly’s bewilderment about his lack of success against left-handers, Ethier replied, “If I did, it would probably bring my whole game down. I can remember quite often all you guys criticizing me for being too harsh on myself. I’m going out there, I’m trying to play defense, I’m trying to do the whole thing. Yeah, it frustrates me not to do it, but I’m not going to show it, I’m not going to let it come into my game.”
Ethier hit left-handers early this season. In his 81 plate appearances against them through May 31, he was 23 for 72 (.319) with two home runs and 17 runs batted in. In his 146 plate appearances since then entering Friday, he was 23 for 138 (.159) with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
“I’ve had to prove people wrong all the time,” Ethier said. “I’ll accept the challenge and figure out a way to get the job done.”
He did Friday. Facing Colorado Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, Ethier doubled to left field in his first at-bat and reached base on an infield hit in his second.
The dream continues
Friday was a big day for third baseman Luis Cruz.
The Dodgers started selling shirts with his name spelled, “Cruuuuuz,” across the top of the back. The shirt also has his No. 47.
But Cruz was emotional for another reason.
His mother, Patricia, was visiting from Mexico. She was expecting to watch her son play in the major leagues for the first time since 2008, when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cruz’s father, a former Mexican league player, is planning to be at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
Asked how he thought his mother would react when she heard fans chant, “Cruuuuuz,” the 28-year-old infielder replied, “It’s going to be something very emotional for her — and for me.”
Rookie-league infielder Stefan Jarrin was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies as the player to be named in the trade involving Shane Victorino. Jarrin, 22, is the grandson of Hall of Fame Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin. He batted .209 with three home runs and nine runs batted in in 26 games for the Dodgers’ Arizona rookie league team.
In exchange for Victorino, the Phillies also acquired reliever Josh Lindblom and double-A pitcher Ethan Martin.