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No one knows why Andre Ethier is playing center field tonight

Jul 13, 2010, 4:45 PM EDT

I wondered yesterday why manager Charlie Manuel would choose to start Andre Ethier in center field for tonight’s All-Star game despite his having zero experience there in the majors, particularly since NL right fielder Corey Hart has actually played several hundred innings as a big-league center fielder.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wondered the same thing and he actually asked both Ethier and Manuel about it. Turns out, neither of them really knows either.
First, here’s Ethier:

Wow. Center field? Am I playing center field? I heard rumors. I don’t even know the lineup. Last time I played center field would have to have been … in college, 2003. Hopefully, [Dodgers manager] Joe [Torre] doesn’t get any crazy ideas.

Now here’s Manuel (yes, Craig already highlighted this quote, but it’s clearly amazing enough to do twice)

The reason he’s playing center field is because when we did the fan voting and the player voting, we, uh, Hart had the … he was ahead of the outfielders. He has to start. He was supposed to start the game, and Ethier’s the one I chose to play center field because I remember he played there a lot. We do not have what they call a true center fielder right now. We have some on our roster … at the same time … that was the reason why he started in center field.

(Ethier’s teammate Rafael Furcal also had a great reaction to the news: “Oh, really? Oh my god.”)
I don’t want to be too hard on Manuel here, because he’s not the world’s most articulate public speaker and ultimately it doesn’t really matter, but as Hernandez pointed out that explanation makes zero sense. In fact, it’s backwards. Manuel says he chose Ethier to start in center field “because I remember he played there a lot.” In reality he’s never played there and Hart is the one who was a regular center fielder as recently as 2007.
Just something to remember the next time you assume the people involved put a lot of thought into these types of things.

  1. Largebill - Jul 13, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    I’m putting my money on Ethier either ending up being named the MVP tonight or a becoming big goat. Seriously though, most likely he will handle his couple fly ball chances fine and be on the bench by the 4th inning. Also, I fully expect that if a ball is hit that he can’t get to the announcer will declare player X would have caught it.

  2. Mr. Heyward - Jul 13, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    It’s a plan to get Ethier injured so that the Dodgers are weaker come playoffs, where the Phillies hope to be waiting for them (but won’t be – GO BRAVES!!).

  3. Utley's hair - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    It’s Buck and McCarver, so they’ll find a way to reference Steinbrenner and the Evil Empire.

  4. Md23Rewls - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:22 PM

    Considering Steinbrenner was the most prominent owner in all of sports, and that the All Star team has eight Yankees, yes, you’re right, they’re probably going to talk about both Steinbrenner and the Yankees at some point during the broadcast.

  5. dl3mk3 - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    My guess is he’s confusing kemp and ethier

  6. birdmancometh - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Charlie Manuel has got to be the funniest man in sports.

  7. Ditto65 - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    Probably should not entrust homefield advantage in the playoffs to a guy that does not know which of his players have experience in different positions.
    Stay Classy, HBT.

  8. Cantankerous - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    The MLB Network is interviewing Charlie Manuel right now and just showed the NL lineup listing both Hart and Ethier as right field. I think that makes as much sense…

  9. Ditto65 - Jul 13, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Of course I meant World Series

  10. RickyB - Jul 13, 2010 at 7:43 PM

    You’re probably right. Either that or he is stereotyping Ethier and Hart — Ethier just looks more like a center fielder than Hart.

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