According to SI.com's John Heyman, Andre Ethier is going to be "baseball's best backup" since Juan Pierre is slated for the left field starting role. This comes despite the fact that the Dodgers weren't willing to trade him over the off-season:
Both L.A. teams have followed the same pattern in acquiring outfielders. Both made a big center-field signing last year (Juan Pierre for the Dodgers, and Gary Matthews Jr. for the Angels). But neither was completely satisfied with the performance of those players. So they signed even bigger center fielders this winter (Andruw Jones for the Dodgers, and Torii Hunter for the Angels) [Yes, based on his weight when he showed up to Vero Beach, Jones is indeed "bigger".]. The idea now is to move both Pierre and Matthews to left field. Which means that for now Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera look to be bench players.
Rivera is good enough to start for many teams. But Ethier may be the best of the backups. "I'd like to see what that guy could do with 500 at-bats,'' one NL coach said.
He might have to wait to see, assuming Ethier stays stuck on the Dodgers' bench. Texas tried hard to trade for Ethier last summer when the two clubs were talking about Mark Teixeira, and the Rangers tried hard again this winter after the Dodgers signed Jones. But the Dodgers said no. Maybe they don't want to see him bat 500 times elsewhere.
Or, maybe we just have no appetite for another first baseman who is injury prone. That said, I can just see Ethier steaming on the bench while Pierre's throws roll into Furcal, even with Raffy positioned halfway into left field, opposing runners going wild around the diamond. We'll see if Torre will let Andre get a well-deserved chance to play.