Andre Ethier sat at the podium, without a Dodgers uniform, as his former teammates huddled around him on the ground floor of Dodger Stadium. On one side of the room sat younger players like Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez. Matt Kemp came through a side door and ruffled Ethier’s closely shorn hair.
The group had assembled for Ethier’s retirement ceremony Friday night. After 12 seasons with the Dodgers, Ethier, 36, did not attend spring training after missing most of the last two seasons with various injuries. He said he was persuaded by team executive Lon Rosen to take part in pregame festivities before the team faced the Astros.
“I’d love to be out there,” Ethier said. “If Joc can get a hit, I can get a hit.”
The room cackled at Ethier’s line. He appeared in only 38 games in 2016 and 2017, but he remained a presence in the room with his wit and wisdom. His final hit as a Dodger came in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. Ethier drove in his team’s only run.
Ethier played the entirety of his big league career with the Dodgers. The organization acquired him from Oakland in 2003. Ethier finished ranked eighth in franchise history in extra-base hits and eighth in doubles. He made two All-Star teams. He was not interested in pursuing the minor league offers he received this winter, so by April he stopped training for the baseball season and changed his focus to golf and tennis.
The Dodgers had “Arrested Development” star Jason Bateman host a ceremony for Ethier and his family. Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen all praised Ethier in short speeches. Ethier’s two sons threw out the first pitch to Kemp. Ethier held his daughter behind the mound and beamed.
“It’s flattering, it’s humbling,” Ethier said. “For a guy who is just another player in the long line of great players to walk these hallways, to put on this uniform, it means a lot.”
Three days after being acquired at the trade deadline, reliever John Axford reported to the Dodgers on Friday afternoon. The team placed reliever Erik Goeddel on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his right lat muscle. Goeddel served up a home run in Thursday’s laugher against Milwaukee.
Axford, 35, was once a star closer for the Brewers and even merited votes for National League MVP in 2011. He has bounced around the sport in recent years, posting a 4.41 ERA with 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 45 games for Toronto this season. He has not earned a save this season, but he did start for the Blue Jays in a bullpen game July 28.
“This is my eighth team now,” Axford said. “I’ve closed, I’ve set up, I’ve mopped up, I’ve started now. I’m ready for anything.”
Axford is a right-handed pitcher, but he has been more effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .552 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.