Ethier given first breather of the season

Ethier given first breather of the season

PHOENIX -- Andre Ethier, the National League RBI leader, was not in the Dodgers' lineup on Wednesday and, in a break from the club's current trend, he isn't injured.

Manager Don Mattingly decided it was time to give Ethier a rest, which, combined with Thursday's day off and a night game Friday, will provide Ethier with 2 1/2 days out of the lineup. Ethier had started all 43 games this year.

"We just decided to keep our wits about us while we still have them," said Ethier. "At the beginning of the season, Donnie talked to me and said if I stay healthy, he'd like to plan five or six days off, about one game a month. He said that should be ideal for me."

Ethier, in his free-agent year, was replaced in right field by Bobby Abreu, with Jerry Sands playing left. Although Abreu has been playing left field since joining the Dodgers, Mattingly said he chose this alignment because of the likelihood that left-handed starter Ted Lilly's pitches would be pulled by Arizona's right-handed hitters and Sands' younger legs would serve the Dodgers better in left.

The presence of D-backs left-handed starter Joe Saunders also convinced Mattingly to give Tony Gwynn a day off, replaced in center field by Elian Herrera, who signed as a catcher in 2003 and didn't play much outfield until '08.