Andre Ethier won’t set a deadline on contract talks with Dodgers

PHOENIX — Andre Ethier said Tuesday he does not plan to impose a deadline on negotiations on the contract extension that could keep him out of free agency.

Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti has said he would like to re-sign Ethier and has discussed the idea with Dodgers President Stan Kasten, who took office three weeks ago.

Ethier said Tuesday he and his agent have not received a formal contract proposal from the Dodgers. Ethier also said he did not anticipate a point where free agency could be so close that he would put any contract talks on hold before he could test the market.

“We’ll take a look at whatever they bring to us,” Ethier said. “I don’t look at it any other way. I’m not going to sit here and play what-ifs and what-nots.”

With the Dodgers sputtering on the field and in bankruptcy court last year, the rumor mill had Ethier wanting to join his friend Dustin Pedroia on the Boston Red Sox. Now, with the Red Sox in last place in the American League East, you never know if speculation might turn to Pedroia joining Ethier in L.A.

“It’s a whole another story when you look at it that way,” Ethier said. “But they have too many good players not to have things turn around.”

The Dodgers have shed their turmoil and boast the best record in the major leagues. Life is going so well for them these days that Ethier, who leads the National League in runs batted in, picked up another RBI on Tuesday before the Dodgers took the field.

The commissioner’s office overruled a scoring call on a deep fly ball in San Diego last week, removing an error from Cameron Maybin and awarding Ethier a double and RBI.

“Pretty sweet,” Ethier said.

Now leading off

Left fielder Bobby Abreu was out of work three weeks ago. He could be the Dodgers’ leadoff hitter next week.

Shortstop Dee Gordon returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after a three-day benching. He batted eighth, the first time this season he had not led off.

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been leading off, but Matt Kemp is expected to reclaim center field from him next week.

Kemp (hamstring) is tentatively scheduled to play for triple-A Albuquerque Sunday and Monday, then rejoin the Dodgers on Tuesday. Manager Don Mattingly said the Dodgers would give Kemp an extra day or two if needed.

“When everybody gets back into the lineup, I’m going to need a leadoff guy,” Mattingly said.

Mattingly said Abreu would be an option if Gordon did not hit well enough to return atop the lineup. Mattingly said he wants to keep catcher A.J. Ellis in the bottom half.

Ellis began play Tuesday with a .446 on-base percentage, tied with Kemp for third in the NL. Gordon had a .244 OBP, tied for fourth-worst in the NL.