LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier gets a rare start for the Dodgers on Saturday night in the middle contest of a three-game series against the Mets at Dodger Stadium.
Ethier is in center field batting fifth on Saturday as Yasiel Puig gets a day off, as does catcher A.J. Ellis and Justin Turner, who had started six straight games at third base.
Puig started 11 straight games before getting Saturday off.
"Before the game yesterday we talked. I knew [Puig] was getting beat up, so I saw how he was doing. He said he was tired. We thought today was the right day. We'll give him a day today, play tomorrow, then get another day," manager Don Mattingly said. "More than anything you just don't see the same energy. It's just little things you see on the field like body language, then at-bats getting shorter, where you don't see the same patience.
It is the first start for Ethier in eight games, since Aug. 14, and just his fourth start in the last 29 games. His start comes a day after his comments about his diminishing role appeared in the Los Angeles Times. From Steve Dilbeck:
"What role?" Ethier said. "What role is that? They still haven’t said what my role is."
"Wouldn’t you want communication to know what’s expected of you?" Ethier said.
Mattingly has talked with Ethier about several things, including taking grounders at first base. I'm not sure exactly how much discussion there is to be had to discuss the limited playing time of a bench role, which is what Ethier has been reduced to.
Ethier, hitting .245/.312/.366 with four home runs this season and .200/.294/.289 with three extra-base hits and no home runs in 51 plate appearances since the All-Star break, sang a different tune on Aug. 5, also from Dilbeck and the Times:
"It’s tough," Ethier said. "It’s one where you come to the field every day and just check the lineup card and see if you’re in there. As of late, it hasn’t been, so you have to scale back and figure out what you’re going to do that day to get on the field and help the team win."
"It’s not the ideal situation, it’s not the way you want it to be, but it’s what we need right now and what we’re doing," Ethier said. "We’re a first-place team, playing good baseball, and I don’t think anyone can be griping in this locker room about that right now with where we’re at, about [what] anyone’s role is.
"We have to keep doing what we’re doing and we have a team that can possibly achieve something special during the year. All that personal stuff, sometimes that definitely goes away when you realize you have the opportunity to do that."
With the days off, the Dodgers have Carl Crawford batting second and four left-handed batters in the first five hitters against Jacob deGrom.
Erisbel Arruebarrena bats sixth, his highest spot in a major league lineup, followed by Drew Butera at catcher and Miguel Rojas at third base.
Mattingly reiterated that Hanley Ramirez will be activated from the disabled list on Sunday unless something changes and Ramirez didn't feel right.