Dodgers notes: Ethier wants to reinvent himself

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VERO BEACH, Fla. – Apparently, Andre Ethier wants to be the Dodgers’ version of Madonna. “It’s just about reinventing yourself,” the second-year outfielder said. “I hit .300 last year, and people said it wasn’t good enough. So I’m just trying to go back to where I was in 2005, the year before I came over here, when I hit balls the other way with authority and at the same time took the inside pitch and tried to drive it out. “I think I can be a more valuable player if I get back to what I did that season.” Clearly stung by what he repeatedly read and heard over the winter – an especially popular notion was that he didn’t hit for the kind of power a corner outfielder is supposed to – Ethier says he is focused on hitting more than the 11 home runs he had last year. That figure notwithstanding, he was a solid NL Rookie of the Year candidate before the fatigue of his first major-league season caused him to fade down the stretch. But the problem with Ethier’s new approach is that manager Grady Little isn’t happy to hear that Ethier, who is expected to be the Dodgers’ everyday right fielder this season, wants to reinvent himself. “That scares the (heck) out of me,” Little said. The Ethier whom Little is hoping to see is the same guy who batted .308 as a rookie while posting a .365 on-base percentage. The guy who went 3 for 4 with a double in Friday’s Grapefruit League game – an 8-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins in front of 4,174 at Holman Stadium – to raise his spring average to .526 (10 for 19). The guy who will fit nicely into either the seventh or eighth spot in the batting order this season, low enough that no one will expect him to be Babe Ruth. The Ethier that Ethier seems to want to be is the player he was two years ago at Double-A Midland, before the Oakland A’s traded him to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. Ethier hit 18 homers and drove in 80 runs that year, even as he was posting the highest full-season average (.319) and on-base percentage (.385) of his professional career. Ethier’s first-inning double against the Twins, which came against a non-roster shell of what used to be Sidney Ponson, is his only extra-base hit of the spring. “I’m not hitting home runs, so something isn’t right,” Ethier said. “They want somebody to hit home runs, and I can be that guy. Why not me, right?” Then again, why not somebody else? “This guy has all kinds of ability,” Little said. “We’re not asking him to be somebody he isn’t. If he swings the bat the way he knows how, those home runs are going to come. They will come if he doesn’t put a lot of effort into trying to make them come. But if he does do that, they may never come then. You can get into bad habits if you start thinking that way.” GETTING BETTER: Utility man Marlon Anderson, who has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game because of a minor setback in his recovery from offseason surgery on his right elbow, might be ready to play as soon as next week. He took ground balls, tossed them lightly and shagged flies in the outfield. Although the injury resulted from Anderson pushing himself too hard early in camp, the veteran said he had no regrets. “Not at all, because you don’t know until you test it,” he said. “I spent the whole offseason rehabbing it. I pushed it a little bit just to see where it was, knowing that I might have a setback.” Shortstop Rafael Furcal (right shoulder) also is expected to return early next week. Both Anderson and Furcal might play in a minor-league game on Wednesday, an off day for big-league camp. Left-hander Randy Wolf will pitch three or four innings in that game to stay on his regular routine of starting every fifth day. HEADED OUT: Don’t be surprised if top pitching prospect Scott Elbert is among this weekend’s first round of cuts. The left-hander, who was not going to make this year’s team, faced five Twins batters on Friday, retired only one and gave up three home runs. last_img read more