When he was the hitting coach last year, Don Mattingly told Andre Ethier, "If I ever manage this team, I want you to start 162 games."
Ethier, who spent three years trying to break into the starting lineup on a regular basis, had no problem with that.
Now that he is manager, Mattingly has lived up to his word. Ethier started his 30th straight game Tuesday, and as long as Ethier's hitting streak is alive, he isn't getting a day off.
"I'd get in trouble," said Mattingly.
The "trouble" is this: If Ethier were needed as a pinch hitter late in a game he didn't start, it would give him only one at-bat to keep the streak alive.
Ethier's hitting streak reached 29 games Tuesday with a blooper into shallow right field, just beyond the leap of second baseman Darwin Barney. It came in the fourth inning, just after the first examples of Ethier perhaps trying too hard.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster began the game with eight straight balls. Despite that, Ethier swung at the first two pitches he saw, fouling them off. The count went to 0-2, and then Ethier worked it to 3-2 before bouncing into a double play.
Ethier took out his frustration on the bat rack, whacking it loudly 4-5 times with his bat.
In his second at-bat, Ethier lost the grip on his bat entirely on a 1-1 fastball. It flew over the Cubs dugout, hit the ground between rows one and three (row two is missing), bounced over a retaining wall, and into the second row of the next tier of seats. Nobody was hurt, and one Dodger fan came away with a cool souvenir.
Ethier got a new bat and promptly looped the next pitch to right for the hit.
Among the highlights of the hitting streak:
--He's one game from tying Zack Wheat (1916) for the second-longest hitting streak in franchise history.
--Another hit on Wednesday would make him the 44th player in the modern era (since 1900) to have a 30-game hitting streak.
--He's three away from breaking Willie Davis' team-record 31-game hitting streak.
--Ethier is 15 shy from tying Pete Rose's National League record 44-game hitting streak.
Ethier is starting to slow down, though. This was the third straight game that he's only gotten one hit -- and all were infield singles or a blooper.
It's the sixth time in the last eight games he's had only one hit. His average has dropped from .382 overall to .370 in those eight games.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.