The more Don Mattingly talks about - or rather, is asked about - Andre Ethier hitting left-handed pitching, the more the manager sounds like someone who knows the numbers but won't act on them.
But this was not news. Mattingly said the same thing in February despite Ethier's history against lefties. Ethier hit .222/.276/.330 against left-handers in 2012, and has hit .238/.296/.330 in his career against southpaws.
Ethier has worked hard with hitting coach Mark McGwire this spring in trying to hit lef-handed pitching.
"I think Big Mac has stressed with these guys approach and what these guys are trying to do to you," Mattingly said.
"I've said all along that this guy can hit lefties," Mattingly said. "I can't say I've seen enough to know that he's going to hit them, but he looks really good against them. I just think it's there."
Mattingly sat Ethier against a left-handed starting pitcher just six of 60 opportunities last year, though in 2013 Mattingly said he plans to time Ethier's days off more.
"I feel like I know Dre enough to know there are days he does get mentally worn down," Ethier said. "So there are days I know that a day off would be good for him, to keep him stronger."
Mattingly knows the numbers, and knows more specific numbers as well.
"Our numbers tell us there are certain lefties he's hitting better than others. We'll keep seeing if that will get better in one are or not," Mattingly said. "Some times the delivery or angles that give you trouble. Certain guys get balls to certain spots of the plate."
But if certain types of pitchers who give Ethier trouble happen to pitch in relief, might Mattingly send up a pinch hitter for Ethier, something he has never done in two seasons as manager?
"It's tough for me to pinch hit for Andre. He's one of our guys. But we've got to be willing to look at the numbers at certain times," Matngly said. "There may be guys that he hasn't seen at all. There are times when you have Jerry (Hairston) sitting there in the right situation."
Jerry Hairston Jr. hit .293/.365/.435 against lefties in 2012, but in his career has hit just .261/.327/.385 against them. Those career numbers are better than Ethier's, but not appreciably so.
"If you really look at it, if you would (pinch hit for Ethier), it's almost better for us," Mattingly said. "Because then it stars to make the other manager think. It puts the doubt of whether they'll face a left-hander or a right-hander.
"In general I don't think I'm going to be pinch hitting for Andre. "We'll have to monitor what's going on. Is he hitting them or not? Is this guy a decent matchup? To me there are all different scenarios. When is the right time?"
Asking Mattingly, it seems like the right time is close to never.
- Carl Crawford increased his work in the batting cages on Saturday morning, up from 50 to 75 swings. Crawford took 25 swings of a tee, 25 swings off a short toss, and 25 more from a longer toss. "He's progressing fairly quickly. It's not like we're starting all over. At this point we're feeling pretty good," Mattingly said.
- Zack Greinke will start against the Brewers and be followed by Hyun-jin Ryu. Greinke is slated to throw roughly four innings, or in the 60-pitch range, while Ryu could go as much as five innings or 75 pitches. Matingly is keeping Greinke and Ryu together for now, rather than have Ryu pitch in a minor league game or on the back fields. "It's not that we need to see him, put rather keep him in against major league competition, or at least partial," Mattingly said.
- Matt Kemp will be the Dodgers' final designated hitter of the spring. Pitchers, starting with Clayton Kershaw on Sunday, will hit for the Dodgers for the remainder of the spring.
- Mattingly reflected on Mariano Rivera, who announced his retirement on Saturday, following the 2013 campaign. In 1995, Mattingly played his last season and Rivera his first.
"He was a starter. I remember him getting hit the second time through the order. That's what I remember more than anything, he'd get through the order once but the second time through he didn't seem to have enough to get starters out," Mattingly said. "He was a young kid. You don't really notice it, until you get in the playoffs and he starts mowing people down."
Time: 12:05 p.m. PT
TV: none, but webcast on Dodgers.com
Radio: KTNQ 1020 (Spanish)