Mattingly sees Ethier as everyday player

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don Mattingly hasn't seen enough of Andre Ethier this Spring to tell if his approach against left-handed pitching has improved dramatically, but he's seen enough to know that Ethier is still his every-day right fielder.

"I'm not going to platoon him," the Dodgers manager said of Ethier, who hit only .222 against lefties last year compared to .325 against righties. "I do look at him as an everyday player."

That said, Mattingly plans to sit Ethier against occasional left-handed starters and didn't rule out using a pinch-hitter against left-handed relievers that have given Ethier trouble.

"I know 'Dre enough to know there are days he mentally wears down," Mattingly said. "Certain guys wear you out and that's a good day for a day off. Two days ahead you know they're pitching. Those guys put you in a bad mood. So you don't fight that battle. When Randy Johnson is throwing, am I going to play? If you know ahead, you can kind of empty the tank.

"It's tough for me to pinch-hit for Andre, but he's one of the guys you've got to be willing to look at the numbers and get Jerry [Hairston] in the right situation. Sometimes you want to give the other manager a doubt about righty or lefty. But in general, I don't think about pinch-hitting for Andre."

Mattingly said he believes new hitting coach Mark McGwire is making progress in changing the mental approach of Dodgers hitters in general and Ethier in particular.

"Big Mac is starting to get them to understand what the pitcher is trying to do to you," he said. "This is the right time for that. I've said all along Andre can hit lefties. He was killing them down here last year and early in the season. I can't say I've seen enough that he's going to hit them, but he looks really good against them. I think it's there. I hope the time is right."

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