MLB probing Andre Ethier's gesture

LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball is looking into photographs that show Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier making an obscene gesture at a photographer before Monday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium.

"We are aware of the pictures and will talk to the appropriate people about them," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney wrote in an e-mail.

The incident -- in which Ethier was snapped flipping his middle fingers at a photographer -- occurred during the Dodgers' batting practice at approximately 4:45 p.m. PT on Monday, before the stadium was opened to the general public.

Ethier said Thursday that he had been contacted by the league and had already discussed the matter with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. He had yet to receive any indication of whether he'd be disciplined by either the league or the team.

The incident occurred, Ethier said, when he repeatedly asked a photographer standing behind the batting cage whether he was finished taking pictures of him because it was interrupting his preparations for the game.

"I just got kind of annoyed, so to that extent I guess I slipped up and that temper you guys like to write about got ahead of me," Ethier said. "I didn't use my head or use the best judgment in that situation. Sometimes you make a mistake and it's unfortunate."

Ethier denied the initial report, published on TheBigLead.com, in which a source claimed he used profanity with the photographer and was loud enough for children standing nearby to hear him.

"He was standing right there where we're trying to get our stuff going and you have a 25-foot lens in your face," Ethier said. "But I wasn't yelling at him, I was just like, 'Do you have enough yet? Do you have enough yet? Are you done?'

"I'm sorry now. It's a dumb incident. Obviously it's an age where some people can't wait to plug their flash drive into the computer and try to make their 15 minutes of fame.

"So obviously you have to watch your guard, watch who you're dealing with out there."

The photos and story were uncredited on the website.

Ethier was batting .325 with four homers and 21 RBIs, but entered Thursday in an 0-for-17 drought.

"Obviously, I used bad judgment. Major League Baseball grants that access because good things come out of it. I have to remember that when I put on a uniform and walk out there on the field, it's public domain."

Mattingly said the team would handle the matter internally, but that he planned to have subsequent conversations with Ethier and general manager Ned Colletti.

"It's something we don't condone," Mattingly said. "I'm not going to sit here and say we think it's OK or try to make any excuses for it. We don't condone it, but we'll handle it."

Mattingly said that he'd made a similar mistake during a high school basketball game.

"It got me benched the rest of the game," he said. "My mom and dad weren't real happy either.

"I can't believe I'm telling this story, because it's really not something I'm proud of. But we were playing a rival school, against all the guys I'd grown up with. I came out and dropped like the first seven points of the game. And I mean quick.

"Then I shot an air ball and the fans were like 'Ooooooohhhh' and I, uh, didn't use good judgement."

His punishment?

"I watched the rest of that game," he said. "My parents were the worst part, but that's an internal issue."

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.