What is the truth about the Ethier situation?

August 29, 2011

Ever since T.J. Simers wrote his article about Andre Ethier, there has been a firestorm of controversy in the media, in the team and in the blogosphere.  Ethier said: “Other than going into the training room every day and saying my knee hurts,” Ethier says, “and having six-inch needles stuck into it to make it feel better, I’ve told them my mechanics are messed up because of my knee. They know.  “But they’ve told me, ‘Grin and bear it.'”  Ned Colletti hinted that Ethier may be faking an injury: “What am I supposed to be concerned about?” General Manager Ned Colletti says. “That he has those numbers [since the All-Star break], that he’s hurt or contends he’s hurt?”

In Tony Jackson’s article, Ethier backtracked when he talked about the condition of his knee: “Ethier himself told us there was no real change, that he was still free to play through the injury if he chose and that he, and not Mattingly, had been the one who had chosen to play through it all season.”

At the end of spring training, Ethier had this to say: ”

“My salary is increasing each year. I would say the likeliness of me being here beyond this year, it’s not just my decision. … I have been kind of lucky to be in one spot in baseball for as long as I have been, for six years now. That is a long time to be in one city playing for one team. There is no inclination now other than to go out and play this year and see what we’ve got.

“If I don’t play well, we have seen them non-tender guys here. If you do play well, sometimes they don’t offer those guys arbitration because their salaries are too high.”

The obvious message Ethier was trying to get across that day was that he wasn’t feeling that the Dodgers were committed to him. Fast forward to this weekend, to another Ethier firestorm that on its face was completely unrelated to that first one, and it now sounds as though Ethier might not be all that committed to them, either.”

Steve Dilbeck reported in his L.A. Times blog “that by Sunday afternoon, a certain disconnect had developed between what Ethier told Simers and what he said before the game. This came after he met with Colletti and Mattingly in the manager’s office, and then was quickly ushered into the training room by team doctor Neal ElAttrache for another examination.”

More disturbing were the comments by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who felt that his personal integrity had been challenged:

“I got kind of blindsided by that,” Mattingly said. “To me, the way I read it is, Dre’s been telling us he can’t play and we just said, ‘You’re playing anyway.’ That definitely isn’t the case.

“For me, that takes a shot at my integrity. … I would never do that. I would rather lose my job that put a guy out there who might hurt himself.”

In the official Dodgers MLB site, Ken Gurnick said that Ethier backed off the comments he made in Simers article: “His pointed comments in the column ignited a controversy that indicted club decision makers and infuriated teammates. But Ethier backpeddled an hour before game time, agreeing with the club that he never told officials he was too injured to play. ”

Mattingly declined to speculate on whether Ethier’s comments in the article were motivated by contractual desires or to serve as an excuse for the outfielder’s second-half slump. Instead, Mattingly said if Ethier needs surgery now, “he’s better off to get it now.”

All of this speculation about Andre Ethier has caused quite a stir.  Who knows who to believe?  Only time will tell how all of this will play out.

This Day in Dodgers History

August 29, 1948 – In St. Louis, Jackie Robinson hits for the cycle, drives in two runs, scores three times and steals a base helping the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park, 12-7.

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Loney Getting Lonely on Bench

August 5, 2011

With the emergence of Juan Rivera, who has the second highest batting average on the team, James Loney has been starting a lot of games on the bench.  Once a steady hitter who averaged 90 RBI’s the last three years, Loney has struggled in the last month batting .176 and driving in 5 runs.

Loney’s future in LA is at risk according to Tony Jackson of ESPN/LA.

“…Loney is making $4.875 million this year, and he has one more winter of arbitration eligibility. Simple logic would suggest that the Dodgers won’t go there with him this year, that if he doesn’t agree to a salary for 2012 far below the roughly $5.5 million he would stand to make through arbitration, they will simply bid him adieu. …”

LA Times writer Dylan Hernandez says that Loney must play in order to prove himself.

“…They have a decision to make, and I want it easy on them to bring me back,” Loney said. “But I have to play well; I have to play up to my talent level.”

First, he has to play, period. …”

MLB.com Dodger beat writer Ken Gurnick has a story pointing to a telling offseason for James Loney.

“James Loney is having his worst season after a bad second half last year, and he’s not even the everyday first baseman anymore, manager Don Mattingly saying Loney will continue to share time with Juan Rivera when Rivera isn’t playing left field.

All of that means Loney is at the top of the list of likely non-tender candidates come December, as the Dodgers are unlikely to pay him a raise from the $4.875 million he receives this year. …”

All of this negative attention does not bode well for Loney.  We can hope that he will turn it around but it looks like the Dodgers may not tender him a contract this fall unless he agrees to a pay cut.

This Day in Dodgers History

On August 5, 1979 – In an 8-1 win over the Giants, Dodger right-hander Don Sutton becomes the team’s all-time strikeout leader with his 2,487th career strikeout.