(As in "practicing at first base." Not "Hey, Andre Ethier has become our first-base solution!")
From Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times:
Left fielder Andre Ethier has been taking ground balls at first base for the past week, he said, "in case we ever need a backup or a backup to the backup."
Manager Joe Torre said working out Ethier at first could increase the flexibility of the Dodgers' lineup by creating opportunities to double switch, or replace starter James Loney if he slumps or needs a day off. On a day when Loney is on the bench, Torre said he would probably start Ethier over Mark Sweeney because he wants to keep the experienced Sweeney available as a pinch-hitting option.
Congestion in the outfield is also a reason for the experiment.
"Especially when you have the four outfielders and you have somebody that does something else, it gives you another opportunity to get [everyone] at-bats," Torre said. "It's not something we're planning on doing that will be a regular scheduled thing."
Ethier said he last played first base as a sophomore at Arizona State. He said he took grounders at the position when he was with Oakland's double-A affiliate in 2005 because of injuries on the major league club.
My initial reaction was, "First? Why not third?" But after mentally composing a "Hang in There, James Loney!" post, I realized this makes sense: Right now, the Dodgers don't have the usual backup first baseman options in Olmedo Saenz (released) and Nomar (injured).