LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers president Stan Kasten saw Andre Ethier enter the building for Don Mattingly's fundraiser Thursday night. "I guess he didn't get traded," joked Kasten. It's been a popular winter rumor that even though the Dodgers gave Ethier a five-year, $85 million contract extension during the summer, they were now willing to trade him.
As the story went, Ethier's struggles against left-handed pitching had management concerned and by dealing Ethier, Matt Kemp could be moved to right field, where there would be less chance of injury or indirect routes to fly balls. So did all the talk bother Ethier? "I thought it was more entertaining and amusing than anything," said Ethier, in town to participate in the Dodgers' caravan and FanFest. "I don't know where it's coming from, so how can I let that bother me." As Ethier pointed out, general manager Ned Colletti told Ethier's agent the outfielder wasn't being shopped, but the rumors wouldn't die. One of them even suggested a replacement -- free agent Michael Bourn, still unsigned and capable of playing center field and batting leadoff. Of course, right now Ethier is the least of the Dodgers' outfield concerns. Kemp is still recovering from serious left shoulder surgery and Carl Crawford, obtained in the summer blockbuster with the Red Sox, is still recovering from the Tommy John surgery on his left elbow that he underwent two days before the trade. The Dodgers remain hopeful, but they are unsure if either of them will be ready for Opening Day. Whether the Ethier rumor was started by an opposing general manager or an agent looking to make room for a client on a team in full-spend mode, Ethier said he doesn't know and doesn't much care. "You can't let it bother you," he said. "I'm here and I'm excited to be here and I want to be here. That's why I signed." And having seen the franchise struggle through bankruptcy and miss the last three postseasons, Ethier is as eager as any of the Dodgers to get to Spring Training and perform for an ownership that has quickly established credibility among players as well as fans. "It's exciting to see the team so positive and willing to go get top guys," he said. "They came in and said they would do this, and they've had no hesitation to do it. It's like night and day from a year ago. These guys have been upfront since Day 1. They said what they'd do and they did it. They are truthful about what they'll do and how they'll do it."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.