Ethier hopes extra work vs. lefties is paying off
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Leyson Septimo of the White Sox has pitched only 14 1/3 Major League innings, but he's left-handed, and that was enough for Andre Ethier to relish the triple he slugged off Septimo in Saturday's exhibition opener for the Dodgers.
"Now you guys will have nothing to write about," Ethier said, mocking his Spring Training mission of relearning how to hit against lefties.
He's been working with new hitting coach Mark McGwire, new assistant John Valentin and has spent extra time taking batting practice against left-handed manager Don Mattingly. Maybe he just imagined that Septimo was Mattingly.
"I wish it was that easy," Ethier said. "Me and Mac, I've been seeing a lot of left-handed curveballs [off a pitching machine] every day. I just have to figure out how to get better at it."
Ethier hit .284 last year, but .222 against lefties, 103 points higher against righties and a 339-point differential in OPS against right-handers versus left-handers.
Ethier said he welcomes McGwire's focus, which is on pitch recognition and selection, not mechanics.
"But the hitting coach can only say so much," Ethier said. "In the box, it's you and the pitcher and everything else is out the door."