Don Mattingly continued to show his disappointment with Andre Ethier by benching the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder for the team’s 9-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The benching marked the third time in six games Ethier did not start, though Ethier did appear late in the other two games, unlike Wednesday.
Mattingly is specifically taking issue with Ethier’s effort. When asked to explain why Ethier was not starting again, Mattingly told reporters he was “putting out my lineup that I feel is going to be the most competitive and going to compete the hardest.”
Though Mattingly seems to believe Ethier is giving effort, he says the outfielder is not playing hard enough.
“There’s a touch difference between, ‘I’m giving you my best effort’ and being willing to fight you for that prize, to do whatever it takes to win,” Mattingly said, via the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett. “It’s almost something inside you that says you’re not beating me today, you’re not getting me out.
“There’s another level (to effort) you can’t measure with sabermetrics. They may say ‘BS’ to that. But there are certain things that you can’t measure.”
Ethier said he shows up to the park expecting to play each game. He was not aware that Mattingly said he was benching him for essentially not playing hard enough, and said he took offense to that.
“Yeah, I take offense to that. … Every day I show up trying to figure out ways to compete and play hard. Whether I’m going good or bad, I work hard. When things aren’t going good, that’s when I try to work harder to turn things around,” said Ethier, per Plunkett.
“All of us in here are trying to get a grip on this and get a handle on what’s going on here and how we can turn it around.
“It’s frustrating to hear that (from Mattingly) but if it’s something where he thinks I can make an adjustment I’ll definitely listen to it.”
Mattingly has been critical of Ethier in the past, saying the outfielder gives away at-bats because of his emotions. That’s nothing new; Ethier has recognized that as well.
Mattingly’s big issue is that he feels the club does not have the fight of a less-talented/hyped squad.
“We’re last place in the National League West. Last year, at this point, we’re playing a lineup that basically has nobody in it, that fights and competes and battles you every day for every inch of the field. We talk about it as an organization. We’ve got to find the club with talent that will fight and compete like the club that doesn’t have that talent. If there’s going to be a message sent, it’s going to be over a period of time,” Mattingly said, via the Los Angeles Times.
The Dodgers are 19-26 after beating the Brewers. They have three games coming up against the St. Louis Cardinals, and then a four-game series against the equally disappointing Angels. What happens in that four-game series with the Angels might say a lot about whether either team can turn it around.
Ethier is signed by the team through 2017 and has a vesting option for 2018. If the Dodgers want to move him, they would likely have to eat part of the contract. Or they could just fire Mattingly and hope a new voice can help turn it around. Either way, we know Mattingly is dissatisfied with Ethier, who is batting a respectable .264/.353./.405. Maybe he wants top prospect Yasiel Puig up with the club.
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