Ethier Solving Left-Handed Pitching

Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly fells the reason Andre Ethier is having success this season -- he is hitting .301 with a .429 on-base percentage -- is that he appears to be taking every at-bat seriously regardless of the situation or the score and has begun to hit left-handers well.

"The main thing is that he is giving away fewer at-bats," Mattingly said. "To me, last year, it seemed like he gave away a lot of at-bats if the game had gone badly or the umpire had cheated him on a call the last time or if he had had a couple of bad at-bats earlier. Now, it looks like he is better able to forget about that and focus on the next at-bat."

Ethier has been famously temperamental in the past, known for taking out his frustrations on his helmet, his bat or various other pieces of equipment. But he seems to have overcome that as well. His on-field emotional displays have been almost non-existent this year.

Another big reason for the left-handed-hitting Ethier's success is that he has been much better this year against left-handed pitching. He was hitting .316 (6-for-19) against lefties entering Monday, although that slipped to .286 after he went 0-for-2 against Barry Zito in the first game of the Giants series.

Ethier also has hit three of his five home runs off lefties, and entered the series with a ridiculous .842 slugging percentage against left-handers.

Draft to be Televised
Previously conducted with an secret telephone call, the Major League draft in June will have the first three rounds televised live on the new MLB Network.

The remainder of the 50 rounds will be conducted by conference call as it has been in the past, over the two days after the televised show.

The Dodgers forfeited their top pick as compensation for signing Orlando Hudson. They'll make their first selections at No. 36, a compensation pick for losing Derek Lowe, and at No. 56. They'll have five picks in the first three rounds.

Free Agents Still Available
A quick rundown of some of the players who could help teams with injury problems:

1. Pedro Martinez, RHP: After the veteran's good-looking showcase stint at the World Baseball Classic, where he pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit ball, Martinez has waited for the phone to ring, and rumors are swirling that it might be ringing soon. Will it be the Dodgers, Mets, Pirates, Indians, Nationals, Angels or Rangers? Martinez has made it known that he's looking for $5 million this year.

2. Ben Sheets, RHP: This one isn't much of a surprise considering the former Brewers horse had February surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. If Sheets, a Type A free agent, can come back by August, and that seems to be a best-case scenario, he'll be in big demand.

3. Paul Byrd, RHP: After taking time off to be with his family, Byrd now says he's ready to pitch, and as a guy who's tallied double-digit victory totals in each of the last six years in which he's made at least 30 starts, he can help a lot of teams.

4. Jim Edmonds, OF: After arriving in Chicago to play for the Cubs last year, Edmonds hit 18 home runs and put up more-than-respectable numbers in on-base percentage (.365) and slugging (.568). Even though he's pushing 40, he's still a solid defensive outfielder.

5. Frank Thomas, DH: Injured most of 2008 without a chance to get hot, he had a big season with Toronto in 2007, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 95 runs.

6. Geoff Jenkins, OF: Jenkins hit nine homers in 293 at-bats for the Phillies and then delivered a monumental hit for the franchise after the resumption of the deciding Game 5 in the World Series. Jenkins, at 34, is one of the younger available bats on the market.

7. Luis Gonzalez, OF: The power numbers have declined over the last three years, and at age 41, there are plenty of better defensive options in the outfield, but this veteran can teach young players a lot from a career with over 2,500 hits.

8. Mark Mulder, LHP: Mulder's agent, Gregg Clifton, was quoted as saying that his client could be ready to pitch in a Major League game in two weeks. The A's, Nationals and Dodgers have discussed deals for Mulder, who has had serious shoulder injuries that have forced him to make only four total starts in the last two seasons. If he's healthy again, teams might want to consider he's a left-handed former 20-game winner who is 31 years old.

Also available are Mark Grudzielanek, IF; Jay Payton, OF; Frank Catalanotto, OF; Shannon Stewart, OF; Ray Durham, IF; Damion Easley, IF; Chuck James, LHP; Brendan Donnelly; RHP; Rudy Seanez, RHP

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