Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier hasn't overlooked the possibility… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )
Only a month ago, Andre Ethier didn't shy away from the notion that he might step forward as the Dodgers' team leader this season.
But on Tuesday, the All-Star right fielder was raising questions about whether his future would be in Los Angeles, perhaps even after this year, even though he's not eligible for free agency until after 2012.
"You don't know," Ethier said at Angel Stadium ahead of the Dodgers' exhibition game with the Angels. "Six years now is a long [time] to be in one city for one team. There's no inclination now other than going out and playing this year and seeing what we got.
"You don't know if this is your last [year] or not, but you want to enjoy it to its fullest extent and make the most out of it."
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Ethier, 28, is in the final season of a two-year, $15.25-million contract that pays him $9.25 million this season. He would be eligible for salary arbitration next year, but the Dodgers could opt to not tender him a contract, leaving him a free agent after this year.
That's what happened in the off-season to the Dodgers' former catcher, Russell Martin, Ethier noted.
"If I don't play well, we've seen them non-tender guys here, and if you play well, I've seen them not offer arbitration because they're afraid guys are setting their salaries too high," he said.
When a reporter asked Ethier whether being non-tendered was the only way he could leave after this season, Ethier replied, "Or traded."
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Ethier also was asked whether his public comments, coming two days before this season opens, might be unsettling for his teammates.
"I don't know why that would be unsettling," he said. "Why would it be?"
Told of Ethier's remarks, General Manager Ned Colletti said, "I don't have any comment on that."
Colletti also said the Dodgers had held "a couple discussions" with Ethier about a contract extension this spring but "nothing that gained much ground."
Ethier, a left-handed batter, was leading the National League in all of the triple-crown categories last season when he broke his right pinkie in mid-May. He finished the season batting .292 with 23 home runs and 82 runs batted in in 139 games, and the Dodgers finished fourth in the NL West.
Ethier first hinted about a possible departure Monday night when he told the Associated Press that this season "might be my last one here with the Dodgers" and that "a lot of signs are pointing that way."
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When Ethier was asked Tuesday whether he wanted to stay in Los Angeles long term, he replied, "Yeah, as long as the organization is moving in the right direction still, moving in a direction where they're committed to winning … rather than if things don't go good for a year or two here, [then] rebuild and try to figure things out.
"I just want to be somewhere that gives me the best shot to win. I feel like we got that here. But it's a wait-and-see basis."