PHOENIX — Andre Ethier and Chase Utley will make their 2017 spring training debuts on Sunday afternoon as the Dodgers play their first road game of the spring, traveling to the Phoenix neighborhood known as Maryvale to play the Brewers.
Ethier starts in left field for the Dodgers, and bats leadoff, a position in the batting order he occupied for the bulk of last spring before fouling a ball off his leg. Manager Dave Roberts on Saturday mentioned Ethier as an option for the Dodgers to bat leadoff against right-handed pitchers this year, along with Andrew Toles and Joc Pederson.
"Like a lot of our guys, Andre has that ability to hit anywhere in the order," Roberts said.
Ethier missed 140 games last season with a fractured right tibia, and was essentially limited to pinch-hitting duty in September and October. But now he is fully healthy again, giving the Dodgers hope he can return to the form that saw him hit .294/.366/.486 with 14 home runs in 2015, including .306/.383/.517 against right-handed pitchers.
"He looks like the same guy I saw here last year. Mentally, physically, he's in a great place," Roberts said. "Just the way he's swinging the bat, he looks great. The ball is coming off his bat really well."
Utley bats third for the Dodgers on Sunday while starting at second base.
Justin Turner makes his second straight start, batting second while serving as the Dodgers’ designated hitter.
Scott Van Slyke, who got two at-bats as designated hitter on Saturday, starts in right field.
Chris Taylor, who tried center field for the first time in his career yesterday, is back in the infield today, starting at shortstop. Conversely, Kiké Hernandez starts in center field today after playing shortstop on Saturday.
The rotation at first base with Adrian Gonzalez out gives non-roster invitee Ike Davis a start on Sunday, batting seventh.
Austin Barnes is also making his spring debut, starting at catcher with Rich Hill on the mound against Milwaukee.
Hill is expected to pitch two innings in his first start of the spring, and will be followed in some order by pitchers Ross Stripling, Chris Hatcher, Brandon Morrow, Ralston Cash and Trevor Oaks.
Four Dodgers pitchers from minor league camp will also make the trip — Alex Hermeling, Ivan Vietez, Wilmer Font and Shea Spitzbarth.
Wily Peralta starts on the mound for Milwaukee.
Sunday’s game is televised by SportsNet LA, and will also be on MLB Network one hour later, though it’s unclear whether that broadcast will be available in the Dodgers television market.
Time: 12:05 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network (1 p.m.)
Radio: 570 AM, 1010 AM