GLENDALE, Ariz. – Andre Ethier's spring nearly went from frustrating to futile when he was struck on the right elbow by a pitch from Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon Tuesday, but X-rays proved negative.
“I’m sure it’ll be sore for a couple days,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We didn’t have Andre in there [Wednesday] anyway, so it gives him an extra day. It was good news, obviously, with the X-ray.”
Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodgers player, has seen his role gradually erode since about the midpoint of the 2014 season, and it is becoming harder and harder to see where he fits with the Dodgers heading into 2015. Rookie Joc Pederson is batting .368 with six home runs this spring. In a comparable number of at-bats, Ethier is batting .313 with one home run.
Pederson is a true center fielder and, while the Dodgers haven’t named him the Opening Day starter yet, Mattingly said no contractual issues will keep Pederson off the field at the start of the season. The Dodgers could prolong free agency if they were to keep Pederson at Triple-A Oklahoma City for a couple of weeks.
Mattingly said that notion has never come up. The Dodgers have liked the way Pederson handled himself in center field and in the clubhouse this spring. They’re more and more confident he’s ready for his major-league opportunity.
“Joc’s kind of checked off all the boxes,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have attempted to trade Ethier, but his contract -- with $56 million left on it -- has made that a difficult task. For the moment, he appears to be a highly paid fourth or fifth outfielder.