Andre Ethier’s Knee Issues Confirm Organizational Question Marks

Yesterday’s shocking article by T.J. Simers about Andre Ethier’s knee had a lot of fans understandably asking a ton of questions of both him and the organization. Today, Tony Jackson got reactions out of Ned Colletti, Don Mattingly, and Andre Ethier.

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier met with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Sunday morning for further examination of Ethier’s right knee, in which Ethier says he has experienced gradually increasing discomfort over the past two years and where he probably will undergo minor surgery after the season.

It’s frightening that it took an article to get one of the Dodgers best players examined. Furthermore, with the Dodgers far out of the race for the playoffs, what’s the wait for on the surgery? I see absolutely no point in him playing out this season.

Edit: Ethier actually had been examined prior to this, hence the injections, but it took an article to get it “further” examined, which is still stupid.

“I got kind of blindsided by that (column),” Mattingly said. “To me, the way I read it was that Dre has been telling us he couldn’t play and we said play anyway. That definitely isn’t the case. For me, that is taking a shot at my integrity. Not just mine, but the organization, the training staff and Ned.”

“His knee has been banged up, there is no denying that. But with that, we check with him. ‘Are you OK today?’ There have been times when I will get him in the weight room after a game and say, ‘I’m giving you the day off tomorrow,’ and then he’ll come into my office and say he wants to (play).”

For his part, Ethier admitted that playing through the injury was his decision.

“It has always been my decision to keep playing and keep going,” he said. “They never said, ‘We don’t think you can go.’ It has always been, ‘You obviously can play on with this, so it’s at your discretion.’ If you physically can go out there and do it, do you tell yourself to stop?”

Colletti said he then received a call from Ethier’s agent, Nez Balelo, while the Dodgers were in Milwaukee two weeks ago informing him that Ethier was experiencing knee problems, that he might need a minor surgical procedure at some point to correct them and that they were affecting his offensive performance, which has been disappointing this season, especially since the All-Star break. “I said, ‘Can he play?’” Colletti said. “(The answer was) yeah. I had a conversation with Nez again before the game (Saturday). We talked about a lot of different topics related to Andre and related to the knee. My impression was that it was something that would have to be looked at, but it wasn’t something that had to be taken care of right now.”

Normally when a player attempts to play through the injury, I take the side of the organization and place blame on the player because his selfish macho actions are usually hurting the team, regardless of whether he thinks he’s being a knight in shining armor or not. However, in this case, where the blame shifts to the organization is in their excuses. Usually when a player hides an injury, the organization is in the dark about it (Jonathan Broxton comes to mind), but with Ethier, they admit they were aware of his knee problems but basically pushed it aside because Ethier told them he could play.

It’s ridiculous.

The excuse that Ethier told the organization he’s alright, so they couldn’t know the extent of the damage is a poor one. By nature, all players say they can play whether they are healthy or not, especially hyper competitive ones like Ethier. It’s like Clayton Kershaw saying he wants to finish games no matter the pitch count, well of course he does, he would throw 150 pitches if they would let him, but it’s up to the decision makers to tell him what’s in his best interest, if not, what’s the point of having them around?

The fact of the matter is that most guys would rather be taken off on a stretcher than take themselves out of games, and that’s where it’s on the management and training staff to step in and either look into the issue further or tell him he can no longer play with the injury.

In a way, I suppose it’s good news that Ethier is confirmed as hurt, as an injury like this could lead to a rapid drop in power, but the fact that it took an article by Simers to get a knee examination and confirm future surgery is disturbing. Either way you cut it, this issue has brought up unnecessary drama and it’s an embarrassment to have one of the few quality players the organization has left basically expose its shoddy internal communication.

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