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Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his three run homerun with Matt Kemp #27 in front of Miguel Montero #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 19, 2014.
It's been a game of musical outfielders for the Dodgers this season, but it's a game that manager Don Mattingly doesn't mind playing.
"It's a problem, but it's a good problem," Mattingly said before Thursday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
He spoke after making the lineup card for the night's game, with Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke the odd men out. Yasiel Puig in right field, Andre Ethier in center, and Carl Crawford in left, got the starts.
The issue is not just having an abundance of outfielders. Kemp, Ethier, Puig, and Crawford have established themselves as bona fide everyday players. They've also signed $429 million worth of contracts between them. Mattingly admits it's a daily struggle for him to decide who plays, and who sits.
"We're talking about four quality guys who have, at this point, had four quality careers, and you can't just throw that aside," he said, adding, "I assume every time their name's not in the lineup, they're not necessarily happy about it."
The five-headed monster that is the Dodgers outfield hasn't exactly slayed opposing pitchers. The high-priced hitters have a combined .236 batting average, with nine homers, and 51 RBIs.
Pitching matchups have largely dictated who starts.
Crawford hasn't seen much time against left-handers, but he says he stays ready in case his number's called.
"I try to keep things as normal as possible and come to the field as if I'm playing, even when I'm not, and keep the same routine," said Crawford.
Van Slyke has seen the least amount of plate action with only 26 at bats, but he sees the scenario as a positive.
"I think it's going to be good for us in the long run," he said.
"When we get the chance to play, you have a little bit more hunger in you to do well, but I don't think any team would ever turn down having this situation."
Mattingly believes the situation "will work itself out," but when that happens nobody knows, including the skipper. In the meantime, he says each guy will play relatively the same amount of games and get relatively the same amount of at bats until the cream of the group separate themselves.
"I feel like guys are getting enough at bats to stay sharp," Mattingly said, adding, "I'm trying to do the best for everybody, and the best for this team."