VERO BEACH, Fla. -- So it turns out Andre Ethier wasn't merely fatigued and distraught when he hit the wall and disappeared from the Dodgers' lineup late last season.
It turns out he was hurt.
A shoulder injury originally suffered diving for a line drive last Spring Training was aggravated on a similar play in August. Ethier, feeling the pressure of a rookie not willing to let go of his job, tried to play through the pain and slumped so badly he lost his job anyway.
At the time, Ethier offered vague explanations for a sudden and endless slump. Now he offers the rest of the story.
"What I had was inflammation of the acromioclavicular joint [where the collarbone meets the shoulder], a half-inch edema pocket [swelling], and the rotator cuff was smashed down," said Ethier.
"When the season was over, I drove home to Arizona and with my hands on the steering wheel, I realized I couldn't flex my bicep. Something was wrong and I had it checked the next week. It didn't need surgery, but I had to spend the winter rehabbing it. It's about 95 percent now and by April it will be 100 percent. My swing feels a lot more normal now.
"It affected me a lot. It messed up my mechanics. I tried to compensate, but my elbow was flying up. It caused me a lot of frustration and led to fatigue. I battled through it, but I wasn't at my best. I needed a lot of time during the winter to get it going again. I realized in September I wasn't helping the team. It was a confidence thing by then."
Ethier's heart was in the right place (his chest), but his rookie reticence is a reminder to those of us who expect our young ballplayers to spring forth fully developed.