Ethier handles first start in center with ease

Ethier handles first start in center with ease

Ethier handles first start in center with ease
LOS ANGELES -- With Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly put together his most interesting outfield alignment this season for Tuesday's game against the D-backs.

Most notably, Andre Ethier took Kemp's place in center field, his first career start at the position. He was flanked in left field by Jerry Sands, who was recalled on Monday in place of Kemp, and in right by Scott Van Slyke, who got his first career Major League start.

"It is different, I know," Mattingly said before the Dodgers' 5-1 loss. "I talked to all of them to see how comfortable they were in those positions and all of them were OK with it."

Understanding the differences between center and right, Ethier said he had to make sure to call guys off and get good jumps on balls.

That seemed to be no problem during the game, in which he caught a handful of routine fly balls and made some strong throws from center field.

He even made an a spectacular diving grab on a ball hit by Justin Upton for the third out in the sixth inning.

"It was probably one of the few times that I can remember having butterflies going into a game just because of the anticipation," Ethier said after the game. "I would be lying if I said it didn't feel a little awkward, but I have waited nearly 30 years of my life to play center field in the Majors and it was fun."

Mattingly said Tony Gwynn will start in center for the team's next two games in San Diego because of how expansive the outfield is.

"I've seen the jumps that Andre gets, and since he played center in college and in the Minors, I felt comfortable with it," Mattingly said.

Van Slyke went 0-for-4 in the three-hole, after playing in three games since being called up on Wednesday.

He's already tallied two hits and three RBIs in his time with the Dodgers, becoming the first Dodger to pick up a pinch-hit RBI hit in his first Major League at-bat since 1961.