Torre yet to decide on starting outfield

Torre yet to decide on starting outfield

PHOENIX -- Managing back in the United States, Joe Torre on Thursday found that the Dodgers' outfield dilemma didn't get any easier to solve while he was in China.

"I'm not sure anything I do will be popular," Torre said.

With Andruw Jones the "anchor" in center field, Torre still has Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp believing they are Major League starters, but only two positions for them to play.

"They've all shown enough to warrant playing every day," said Torre. "It's something I'll fiddle with and rotate. There's always the danger in doing that, as much as you get to keep everybody involved, you don't want to take away from someone who won't be as good when he doesn't get the at-bats."

Thursday's alignment had Ethier in left, Kemp in right and Pierre on the bench. Ethier went 2-for-4 and was robbed of extra bases by a Jerry Owens catch at the center-field fence. Kemp (1-for-4) slugged a three-run bomb to center field. Pierre entered the game as a pinch-hitter and went 0-for-1 with a walk.

Torre said he started Ethier because he wanted to see him bat against the left-handed Mark Buehrle, and he liked what he saw.

"In the first inning, he fought the ball off [for a soft single], the sign of a good hitter," said Torre. "He gets the most out of every at-bat."

Kemp stranded two runners in the first inning and pulled a pitch into a double-play grounder in the sixth, but launched his third homer of the spring off Octavio Dotel in the seventh.

"Matt's still learning," Torre said. "I thought the ball he hit was a sacrifice fly, but it didn't come down. He gives at-bats away sometimes trying to pull, but he saw on the double play to stay in the middle of the field."

Through Thursday's game, Pierre is batting .200, Kemp .304 and Ethier .352.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.