Andre Ethier starts in LF as Dodgers go for sweep

Jason Wise

Sunday marks Ethier's 162nd career start in left field, but just his eighth in the last six seasons.

Andre Ethier gets the start in left field as the Dodgers go for a sweep of the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Ethier started in left field seven times in 2013 (June 27 to July 5) but before that his last start in left was 2008. He has also started six games in center field and four games in right field. After starting 70 games filling in in center field in 2013, Ethier used the offseason to drop some weight to better prepare for all the running required of the position.

"I leaned up a little bit, got a bit lighter on my feet, especially on my joints to handle that type of pounding. Everyone wants to come in bigger, heavier, bulkier but that wears on you over the course of a long year. It's how you can maintain that lean muscle the entire year," Ethier said earlier this season. "It's difficult to try to find it at the beginning of the offseason, but I think I was able to find the groove of where I was where I was able to be where I was in years past, but also stay a little lighter than I normally am."

The Dodgers see Carl Crawford, who gets a second straight day off on Sunday, as mostly confined to left field, and Matt Kemp will play center field when he plays. Yasiel Puig could play center field if pressed, but is still too raw. Of the four starting outfielders, Ethier is the one who will move around the most.

"If you look across the board, this game is transitioning. There are defined certain position players like shortstops and center fielders, but there are secondary position guys who can play multiple positions. You can have a right fielder who can play all three outfield positions and a second baseman who can play all four infield positions," Ethier said. "Managers these days aren't just looking for defined position players. They're looking for guys who are able to adjust and play wherever they're asked to play that day."

Ethier is 8-for-37 (.216) with a home run this season, though he enters Sunday in a 1-for-14 slump. He has hit .261/.308/.348 (6-for-23) with two doubles against Trevor Cahill, starting for the Diamondbacks.

For the first time this season, manager Don Mattingly inserted a right-handed hitter in between Adrian Gonzalez and Ethier against a right-handed pitcher. Those two had batted in the fourth and fifth spots in all nine games against right-handed starters this season, but Ethier moves down to sixth on Sunday with Kemp batting fifth.

In six of the previous nine games with Gonzalez batting fourth and Ethier fifth, a left-handed reliever was able to face both in succession. Gonzalez and Ethier were a combined 1-for-11 with five strikeouts and a walk in those situations.

Notes

The Dodgers in 2013 when presented with the opportunity to sweep a three- or four-game series were 9-5, including 4-4 on the road. They successfully completed a sweep in Phoenix just before the All-Star break (July 8-10) but lost the finale of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 11 after winning the first two games.

Ethier, who went to high school in Phoenix and played college ball at Arizona State, is a .297/.350/.483 hitter at Chase Field, which isn't much different than his .287/.361/.468 career line. But what stands out is that Ethier has 25 doubles in just 62 games in Arizona, a 65-double pace over a full season. Todd Helton, with 32 doubles in 111 games, is the only Diamondbacks opponent with more doubles at Chase Field.

Dan Haren, who pitched for Arizona from 2008-2010, is 24-14 in his career at Chase Field with a 3.31 ERA in 45 starts, with 308 strikeouts and just 57 walks in 309⅔ innings.

Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe have played in every inning of all 12 Dodgers games to date. All three are in the lineup on Sunday.

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