The annual dance of whether or not manager Don Mattingly will sit Andre Ethier against left-handed pitchers began anew on Thursday at Dodgers camp at Camelback Ranch. Mattingly gave the expected answer.
"We're definitely not going to be platooning Dre. He's going to get his ABs," Mattingly said. "But with him and Carl Crawford, I'm going to try to get Jerry Hairston Jr. some ABs against that nasty lefty, to give them a breather here and there."
Ethier hit .222/.276/.330 against left-handers in 2012, and has hit .238/.296/.330 in his career against southpaws.
"We're counting on him being better, obviously," Mattingly said on Thursday.
Mattingly sat Ethier in six of 60 opportunities against a left-handed starter last season.
"Mac (hitting coach Mark McGwire) and Dre will be working on it," Mattingly said. "They've talked about it I know already. We're going to make sure we address it and keep getting after it."
Mattingly said Ethier would be rested against some types of left-handed pitchers this season, but wouldn't elaborate.
"His numbers are pretty consistent, his career numbers and last year. Last year early on he busted them," Mattingly said. "We're getting a little more detailed with it, and you see certain things with certain types of lefties. Some of them he hits better, and some of them he has trouble with. We'll try to pick and choose which guys to give a breather on, with him and Carl."
Ethier was hitting .319/.383/.486 against left-handed pitchers through May last season, in 81 plate appearances. But for the remainder of the season, in 158 plate appearances against southpaws Ethier hit just .174/.222/.255.
As it stands now, the only two reserves earmarked for the opening day roster with outfield experience are Hairston and Skip Schumaker. Another potential option is Alex Castellanos, but Mattingly said it was far too early to determine that, especially since spring training games haven't yet started.
"It depends on how we break, and who we take. We have some guys on the roster that we'll continue to look at," Mattingly siad. "Alex will get some playing time all over. We're going to see what he looks like in center a little bit. He played center in winter ball, and the reports were good."