GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Andre Ethier appeared at the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring-training complex on Saturday, taking a few swings off a tee in the indoor batting cage before returning to the clubhouse and holding a curiously contentious interview with a handful of reporters.
Ethier missed the final three weeks of last season because of surgery to repair cartilage and remove loose bodies from his right knee, this at the end of a comparatively disappointing season in which he made his second National League All-Star team despite hitting .292 with just 11 homers (matching his career low) and 62 RBI.
Ethier eventually got around to saying he feels fine now, but not before responding to a friendly greeting of, “Did you have a good winter?'' with a curt, “We're not here to talk about that.'' He later responded to another question about why he was being so abrupt by saying, “I'm not your buddy. You're not my buddy. We're not going to sit here and have a bar-type conversation.''
Ethier, who publicly voiced his displeasure at the end of spring training last year at not having received a multiple-year contract, also didn't want to discuss his current contract status to any great degree. He avoided arbitration this winter by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $10.95 million contract. He will be eligible for free agency after this season unless the Dodgers sign him to a long-term deal before that, something general manager Ned Colletti has said he is open to discussing.
Simple logic would suggest, though, that such discussions won't take place until after the sale of the club is complete.
“I can't tell you anything about any of that,'' Ethier said. “I'm just here today to play baseball and help the team win. I'm here for today. I lifted some weights, I ran the bases, and I hit some balls off a tee. … I can't control the past or control the future. The only thing I can control is the way I play right now.''
Ethier said he has been swinging a bat for “a while,'' declining to specify when he began doing so. Ethier tends to be his own worst critic, and he did say he didn't feel good about the way he was swinging in the cage on Saturday.
“I wasn't hitting the ball so well,'' he said. “I'm a little concerned about that.''
Even with free agency looming and the possibility he is entering his final season with the Dodgers, Ethier said his primary focus this season will be on helping the Dodgers return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“We won a lot of games here in the past,'' he said. “We were awful the last couple of years. It isn't fun to play the game that way.''