It is safe to say that the health of Andre Ethier is a rather large key to the Dodgers season in 2012. After hitting a career-high 31 home runs in 2009, Ethier has hit 34 home runs over the last two seasons combined. In the last two seasons he has dealt with a broken pinkie finger and a lingering right knee issue that eventually required surgery last September.
Since the pinkie break in May 2010, Ethier has hit .278/.353/.418 with 23 home runs in 241 games, after hitting .306/.389/.565 with 51 home runs in his previous 241 games, roughly a season and a half.
Now fully healthy and looking good so far during spring training, the question becomes will Ethier's power return in 2012?
Matt Kemp hit 39 home runs last season, and has hit no fewer than 26 home runs in each of the last three seasons. If Ethier can regain his power stroke, the All-Star outfield duo can perhaps become the 15th set of Los Angeles Dodgers teammates to hit at least 25 home runs each in one season, something Kemp and Ethier accomplished in 2009.
|LA Dodgers Teammates With 25 Home Runs|
|2009||Andre Ethier (31), Matt Kemp (26)|
|2004||Adrian Beltre (48), Shawn Green (28)|
|2001||Shawn Green (49), Gary Sheffield (36), Paul LoDuca (25)|
|2000||Sheffield (43), Eric Karros (31)|
|1999||Karros (34), Sheffield (34), Raul Mondesi (33)|
|1997||Mike Piazza (40), Karros (31), Todd Zeile (31), Mondesi (30)|
|1996||Piazza (36), Karros (34)|
|1995||Piazza (32), Karros (32), Mondesi (26)|
|1990||Kal Daniels (27), Eddie Murray (26)|
|1985||Pedro Guerrero (33), Mike Marshall (28)|
|1980||Dusty Baker (29), Ron Cey (28), Steve Garvey (26)|
|1979||Garvey (28), Cey (28), Davey Lopes (28)|
|1977||Garvey (33), Reggie Smith (32), Cey (30), Baker (30)|
|1962||Frank Howard (31), Tommy Davis (27)|
This isn't Ethier's player profile, so I'm not asking for predictions of his season, but I am curious to know how many home runs the duo of Ethier and Kemp will hit for the Dodgers in 2012. Please place your guess in the comments.
Ted Lilly makes his third Cactus League start, as the Dodgers face the Texas Rangers for the second time this spring. Greg Reynolds starts for the Rangers.
Also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers are Wil Ledezma, Scott Elbert, Kenley Jansen, and Javy Guerra.
The Dodgers for the first time this spring have their full opening day lineup, or the first eight batters of it anyway, in order. The Rangers, meanwhile, do not.
For the first time all spring, there are no reserves listed on the lineup sheet. Also, manager Don Mattingly said he will have the pitcher bat in all remaining spring games, to prepare for the season.
Game Time: 1:05 p.m. PDT
TV: Prime Ticket (first game of the spring for Eric Collins and Steve Lyons)
Radio: None, but the MLB.com audio broadcast can be heard on MLB Gameday Audio