May 26, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier (16) reacts to flying out to center in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
"I'm living out a dream, playing baseball in the major leagues. The biggest thing I realized in the last couple of years of ups and downs of this game is how much you take for granted the opportunity to play in the major leagues," Ethier said. "What an unbelievable opportunity it is to be sitting here at 30 years old, and I'm still putting on a uniform for a living."
The $85 million extension was forged in the last few weeks, starting with a meeting in San Diego in May between general manger Ned Colletti and Ethier's agent Nez Balelo. The preliminary discussions began in February, but there was the little matter of the team still being in bankruptcy and the pending end of the Frank McCourt era before any serious negotiations could take place.
Ethier was also coming off knee surgery, and the Dodgers had to see if he was healthy before committing long term to him.
"No surgery is simple. We did need to see a little bit how he was going to bounce back," Colletti said. "But when he got to spring training we could see how he was running and how his mechanics worked in his swing, and we saw that he was better than he had been a year earlier. It became not much of a concern pretty quickly."
Colletti said he has done maybe five deals in season in his 25 years in baseball, and most of them had negotiations open in the spring and were done early in the season.
"Whenever you enter into a deal in season, you need to do it in a rapid way. You can't let it drag on. It's a perilous time of year to be doing it," Colletti said. "You have to be quick with it, you have to be prepared, and you have to bring it to a positive result as soon as you can."
Ethier said the ownership change was definitely a factor in getting his contract completed.
"The ownership change definitely hit home the decision even more to stay here," Ethier said. "These guys aren't messing around when it comes to making this team the best he can be, making this stadium the best its going to be, and turning the Dodgers into the team that L.A. expects them to be, that all of baseball is afraid to see."
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: KCAL, MLB Network, Fox Sports West