In case you hadn’t heard, Andre Ethier’s right knee caused a bit of a stir last season. There was this column in the Los Angeles Times that implied Ethier was playing injured against his body’s will, which must have rattled a few cages in the Dodgers’ front office; a couple weeks later the outfielder had season-ending surgery to remove “loose bodies” from the knee.
When spring began, Ethier made it clear he didn’t want to talk about the injury and his recovery, leaving fans and media folks to sift through whatever anecdotal evidence we could gather.
So … based on his first game of the Cactus League season, Ethier’s fine. The only “loose body” in sight belonged to Ethier, sprinting out of the batter’s box, successfully legging out a double to right field in the second inning of the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.
“That’s a challenge double,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “That guy can throw. (White Sox right fielder Alex) Rios has a good arm. That’s one of those bang-bangs. If you’re not decisive out of the box, you’re not going to make that.”
It was just one game, and the truest test of Ethier’s knee will be expressed in his power numbers over time. Ethier hit just one home run after July 26 last season, which was roundly attributed to an inability to firmly plant his front (right) foot.
But if you’re looking for a sign of progress, there it is.