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Ethier gets Opening Day start in left; who's on third for Dodgers?

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers chose speed over power when they picked up Juan Pierre in free agency, but now they have fast-tracked the outfielder to their bench in year No. 2 of his $44 million contract.

The day before his team's Monday opener against the San Francisco Giants (ESPN, 4:10 p.m. ET), first-year Dodgers manager Joe Torre announced Andre Ethier will play left field.

Pierre entered spring training with an edge in left, but Ethier was far superior during the exhibition season.

"I just feel that I want to start that way," Torre said Sunday. "I know sometimes you don't make enough of spring training and other times you make too much of spring training. But just from the at-bats I watched him have and the defense he played, I'm curious and I want to see him out there.

"He's had a real good spring. He's hit a number of home runs, he's hit lefties, he's hit righties, and I want to see more."

Torre said Pierre took the news as well as could be expected.

"He's a professional, and before it's all said and done, we're going to get contributions from a lot of people," he said. "He said OK, but obviously he's disappointed. I wouldn't want anybody sitting on the bench who certainly was accepting of it. I'd much rather have players who want to play and aren't playing than the other way around."

The 30-year-old Pierre, who signed a five-year deal before the 2007 season, hit .293 with no homers, 41 RBIs and 64 stolen bases last season. Ethier, who turns 26 next month, hit .284 with 13 homers and 64 RBIs.

Meanwhile, it was still unclear as to who will play third base for the Dodgers on Monday.

As expected, Los Angeles placed third basemen Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche and right-hander Jason Schmidt on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

Tony Abreu, another third baseman, is sure to join the Dodgers before the opener.
Blake DeWitt, a 22-year-old non-roster player who split last season between Class A Inland Empire and Double-A Jacksonville, was the likely Opening Day third baseman as of Sunday.

"He hasn't been told he's going anywhere," Torre said. "We're within regulation right now. We'll have guys show up tomorrow that may not be eligible. You're going to have all teams doing what we've done today."

What the Dodgers did was option outfielder Jason Repko to Triple-A Las Vegas and reassign catchers Danny Ardoin and Rene Rivera, right-handers Chan Ho Park, Brian Falkenborg, Mike Koplove and Greg Jones, left-hander Clayton Kershaw and infielder Ramon Martinez to their minor league camp.

"There may be other people that become available through the course of today," general manager Ned Colletti said. "No reason not to use every day. Nothing may happen, chances are nothing will happen. There's always a chance something will happen."

Colletti said the 20-year-old Kershaw would start the year at Double-A after an impressive spring.

"I'm sure Ned is not shutting any doors anywhere," Torre said. "We stayed late last night, we were here early this morning. We don't know if anything's going to happen."

The Dodgers are keeping 11 pitchers including reliever Ramon Troncoso, a 25-year-old right-hander who has never played above Double-A. Torre said Park would go to Triple-A Las Vegas as a starter.

"If we were going to go with 12, he would have been the one," Torre said, adding the team might add a 12th pitcher in the coming weeks.

The Dodgers are going with 11 pitchers for now to keep an extra infielder due to Jeff Kent's status. Kent started the final three exhibition games after sitting out more than three weeks because of an injured right hamstring, but said Sunday he's healthy enough to be in the lineup on a regular basis.

"Running is the biggest issue," said the 40-year-old Kent, baseball's career home run leader as a second baseman. "I don't doubt there will be something out there that will hinder me. You don't want to reinjure it. You definitely don't want to hold the team back. You play smart, especially as you get older. You're in it for the long haul."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.