GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers were hoping they were done with the drama that comes with having an excess of well-paid outfielders after they traded Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres over the winter, but the storyline could linger.
Andre Ethier, who was the odd man out for most of the second half of 2014, said he would prefer to play elsewhere if there isn't an everyday job open for him on the Dodgers.
Ethier is the longest-tenured Dodgers player, having broken in with the team in 2006. The Dodgers' tentative Opening Day plans are for Carl Crawford to start in left field, rookie Joc Pederson in center and Yasiel Puig in right, with Ethier the fourth outfielder.
"You're not wishing for it ever to end, but sometimes that opportunity takes you somewhere else," Ethier said. "I'm not going to do anything to sit here and force it. Hopefully it works itself out."
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said early in the winter he would like to trade at least one and possibly two outfielders to make the Dodgers a more functional team. He sent Kemp, $32 million and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Padres for catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Wieland. He was unable to find a trade match for Ethier, who has three years and $55 million left on his contract.
Ethier, 32, batted .249 with four home runs and a .691 OPS in 331 at-bats last season. His production has been in decline since the 2012 season, when he had an .810 OPS and hit 20 home runs, but his playing time also has declined each of the past two seasons.
The Dodgers traded for Crawford late in the 2012 season and promoted Puig in June 2013. Ethier said he expected to be traded over the winter.
"I want the opportunity to play every day. My mind hasn't changed from when I told you guys that a couple months ago," Ethier said. "I felt like when I get a chance to play every day, I put up the numbers they ask of me. For some strange reason, it just happened that coming off a good 2012 season, in 2013 they took games away. You start to wonder why that happened. I feel like if I get a good full year in and get the at-bats, it starts to add up. It's tough when you get 300 at-bats and you're expected to hit 15 or 20 home runs."
The Dodgers hope that Ethier's unhappiness with his role doesn't become a distraction because the excess-outfielder story became one of manager Don Mattingly's least favorite topics in 2014.
"I'm not even trying to go there, really," Mattingly said Tuesday. "We don't know what's going to happen over the next four to six weeks. We'll evaluate, see where we're at and deal with that when we get there."