Los Angeles Dodgers batter Andre Ethier reacts in the dugout after he struck out against the New York Mets during their MLB National League baseball game in New York

T.J. Simers: Andre Ethier “selfish” and “counterproductive”

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Well, that’s not nice. Here’s the full quote from T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times:

Mattingly’s critical comments of the team and Ethier came a day after being assured by Colletti that he had management’s support.

I’ve been writing it for years: Ethier is the most selfish athlete in town and counterproductive to a team’s achieving success.

I thought the Dodgers’ off-season should have begun by trading Ethier, but that’s something for Colletti to explain later.

Andre Ethier, entering tonight with a .264/.353/.405 line, was benched for Wednesday’s game against the Brewers despite not really being in a slump of any kind. It was the third time in the team’s previous six games that Ethier was not starting. Manager Don Mattingly implied Ethier wasn’t mentally tough. ESPN’s Mark Saxon tweets that Ethier hadn’t talked to manager Don Mattingly about the situation but is still stung by the criticism.

Ethier signed a five-year, $85 million extension with the Dodgers on June 12 last year, but has become the team’s whipping boy. The Dodgers opened the season with a $217 million payroll but sit in last place in the NL West at 19-26, thanks in part to a barrage of injuries. Placing the blame on Ethier, who is actually having a decent season thus far (.758 OPS), seems misguided.

The media, including Simers, don’t like Ethier because he’s emotional and abrasive at times, but that has nothing to do with his performance on the field. There are plenty of teams who would be happy to bring Ethier, so-called problems and all, aboard if the Dodgers are willing to take responsibility for a large portion of his remaining contract.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the Cubs

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 07:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 7, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon says C/OF Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the team this season, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Schwarber, 23, has hit out of the leadoff spot only eight times in his young career, but the move up the batting order mostly just means more opportunities for him to swing his potent bat. He hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 273 plate appearances in his rookie season in 2015.

Schwarber suffered serious injuries early in the 2016 season when he collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the Arizona outfield. He tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, which everyone thought ended his 2016 season entirely. However, Schwarber returned for the start of the World Series against the Indians. In 20 plate appearances over five games, Schwarber contributed six singles, a double, and three walks.