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DODGERS REPORT

Colletti Sees Ethier in L.A. Future

September 23, 2006|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Andre Ethier was back in the starting lineup Friday, but the rookie left fielder openly expressed doubts about whether he would be back with the Dodgers in 2007.

A prolonged September slump in which he is batting .128 with no home runs and one run batted in has relegated Ethier to a second-stringer recently, with Marlon Anderson getting the majority of starts in left field.

"I don't know if I'm going to be here next year or not," said Ethier, who before Friday was batting .314 overall with 11 homers and 54 RBIs and remained in the running for National League rookie of the year. "It's pretty obvious by the way the last couple of weeks have been going."

General Manager Ned Colletti appeared stunned when informed of Ethier's comments, saying, "I plan to have him here. He's got a long, good future ahead of him in L.A."

Manager Grady Little said Ethier, who finished 0 for 3, was in the lineup Friday because he had had two hits, including a home run, in five at-bats against Arizona starter Claudio Vargas. Anderson had been hitless in one at-bat against Vargas.

"Ethier's been a big part of this ballclub all season long, he's got some good history against this guy and hopefully it will be what he needs to get back on track," Little said.

Little was noncommittal when asked whether Anderson had become the everyday left fielder after hitting .385 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his first 17 games with the Dodgers. But it appeared clear that Anderson had become an integral part of the club after hitting the last of the team's record-tying four consecutive homers in the ninth inning Monday and bringing home an insurance run on a suicide squeeze Thursday.

Ethier said he was not disappointed about what he perceived as an uncertain future given his contributions to a team contending for the National League West title.

"This is the business in the game I play, and that's how it's been," Ethier said. "I played [with] a different team at a different level the last four years. It's nothing new. It's something you prepare for all the time. You don't know where you're going to be from year to year."

The Dodgers will have the final say. They hold the rights to Ethier through the 2011 season.

*

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said the Dodgers would use Monday's day off to shuffle their rotation so Greg Maddux, Derek Lowe and Brad Penny could make five of the team's final six starts. Maddux would start the opener of a three-game series against Colorado on Tuesday, followed by Lowe on Wednesday and Penny on Thursday.

The Dodgers are still discussing options for the opener of their three-game series against San Francisco on Sept. 29, with rookie Chad Billingsley as the most likely starter. Barring injury or exceptionally high pitch counts, the Dodgers plan to bring Maddux back on three days' rest Sept. 30 and Lowe on three days' rest Oct. 1 in their regular-season finale.

Maddux is 22-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 39 starts on short rest, and Lowe is 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in four starts.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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