T.J. Simers’ Sunday column in the Los Angeles Times, which highlighted Andre Ethier’s struggles as he plays on a sore right knee that will require offseason surgery, created a stir in the Dodgers clubhouse and led to a meeting this afternoon between Ethier, GM Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly.
Ethier, who has been playing regularly while hurt, was held out of Sunday’s lineup after the meeting. His comments in Simers’ article suggested he was playing at the Dodgers’ insistance:
It’s only going to get worse from this point. I’ve dealt with it all season long, but as the season goes on my body wears down. That’s just the way it is — I keep getting put in the lineup, so what am I supposed to do?
Obviously, that didn’t go over well with Mattingly:
“I got kind of blindsided by that,” Mattingly told Steve Dilbeck of the Times. “To me, the way I read it is, Dre’s been telling us he can’t play and we just said, ‘You’re playing anyway.’ That definitely isn’t the case.”
Ethier says he’s been told playing won’t make his condition any worse, so it doesn’t sound like he’ll be shut down anytime soon. Still, one wonders if his time with the Dodgers is coming to an end. He’s been painted as a malcontent in other articles this year, with many suspecting that he yearns to play in Boston with good friend Dustin Pedroia. The Dodgers have him under control for next year, but he’ll probably make $11 million-$12 million in arbitration and he’ll be a free agent after that. They might decide to get something for him while they still can.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.