Andre Ethier is finished for the season because of knee injury
Reporting from Washington — At last, Andre Ethier’s long and painful season is over.
Before the Dodgers’ 7-4 win over Washington Nationals on Thursday, he was already on his way to Alabama. That’s where on Friday an orthopedic surgeon is scheduled to examine Ethier’s long-ailing right knee.
A minor operation is a distinct possibility. The right fielder will not play again this season.
“It sounds like this is it,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
The decision marked the end of a largely disappointing season for Ethier, who batted .292 but hit only 11 home runs and drove in a modest 62 runs.
Ethier had as many home runs in the first 33 games last year, when his season was shortened by a broken pinkie finger. He hit a career-high 31 home runs in 2009.
The decline in power is something Mattingly said was probably a symptom of Ethier’s knee problems, which date back to last season. The outfielder said he has loose bodies trapped under his kneecap, causing him pain. The injured leg is in front when the left-handed Ethier is in the batter’s box.
“That’s where your power’s coming from,” Mattingly said.
Ethier is confident the home runs will come back when his knee is repaired.
“That’s the reason we’re doing this right now — to figure out how to get back to the old mechanics,” he said. “Once I strengthen that, then we could be back where we need to be.”
Asked why he decided to shut himself down at this particular time, Ethier said, “It was the consensus among everyone.”
“Everyone,” he said, included General Manager Ned Colletti, trainer Stan Conte and team physician Neal ElAttrache.
There was no such consensus last month, when Ethier publicly revealed he was hurt and implied the Dodgers were instructing him to play injured. Mattingly said he was blindsided by the comments, and Ethier subsequently backtracked, saying the decision to play was his.
In a closed-door meeting with Mattingly and Colletti, Ethier said he wanted to continue playing. Then, over his last eight games, he hit .400 with a home run and 11 runs batted in.
Ethier said he wasn’t far enough removed from the season to reflect on it, but he acknowledged he was often frustrated.
“You come in with high hopes,” he said. “It doesn’t work out the way you think it should. That’s frustrating.”
Along the way, there were a few highlights. He had a 30-game hitting streak early in the season and played in his second consecutive All-Star game, played in his hometown of Phoenix.
Ethier, 29, won’t be eligible for free agency until after next season, but Colletti has said he wants to sign him and Matt Kemp to long-term contracts this winter.
While reiterating his desire to remain with the Dodgers, Ethier was noncommittal when asked if he would be open to signing a multiyear extension at a time when his value could be relatively low.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I’m concerned about getting this right, fixing this and making myself the best I can be for next year.”
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