Andre Ethier had high expectations for himself after a resurgent 2015 season. But he sustained a tibia fracture during 2016 Spring Training, and it threw his entire season off course. Ethier didn’t return from the disabled list until September, ultimately making little impact.
He went into Spring Training this year projected to start in left field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But again, his season was grounded before it even began. Ethier was dogged by back and hip soreness, which was discovered to be the cause of a herniated disc in his lower back.
There was hope and optimism the veteran outfielder would make a relatively quick return. However, Ethier’s timetable continued to slip and he remained on the disabled list until the final month of the regular season.
Like in 2016, Ethier was primarily limited to pinch-hit duty. He went 8-for-34 (.235 batting average), with one double two home runs, three RBI and four walks in 22 games (eight starts).
Just as they did last season, the Dodgers nonetheless included Ethier on their postseason roster. His opportunities in 2017 were much more pronounced, as the 35-year-old played in eight games, making two starts.
Ethier finished the postseason 4-for-13 with one home run, one RBI, two walks and three strikeouts. His home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series helped the Dodgers erase a deficit.
It marked a second consecutive NLCS in which Ethier hit a home run against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers’ appearance in the World Series was particularly meaningful for Ethier, who resided as the organization’s longest-tenured player.
The Dodgers predictably bought out the final year on Ethier’s contract in place of paying him $17.5 million next season.
Two games after notching his first hit of the season, Ethier hit a solo home run against the Colorado Rockies. The homer was his first since Sept. 23, 2016.
Ethier indicated during the regular season that he intended to continue playing in 2018, but a report late last month had him retiring. Ethier was forced to refute it, and in addition to restating a desire to continue playing, said his focus was on playing for a contending team.
A reunion with the Dodgers would not appear likely, in large part because of the organization’s depth in the outfield. Considering the significant amount of time missed in each of the past two seasons, Ethier may be hard-pressed finding a team to join.