The Dodgers held their on-field photo day for fans at Dodger Stadium last Saturday, and Andre Ethier was a reluctant participant.
He walked onto the field and made the rounds with fans who were separated from him by short fences. He allowed fans to take pictures of him as he walked by.
But unlike many of his teammates, he declined requests to have his pictures taken with any fan. One disappointed fan told the blog Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, “He kept saying ‘I don’t do Facebook or MySpace, so no pictures.’”
Diamond Notes spoke with Ethier before tonight’s game at AT&T Park, and the right fielder said he decided during the middle of last season that he would no longer take photos with fans. He confirmed his behavior at photo day and made no apologies.
"How awkward is that?" Ethier said of the event.
Ethier will make an exception for next week’s Carne Asada Sunday event, but has otherwise informed the team’s public relations department that he will not be photogenic with fans.
The reason? Ethier fears such photos could be used against him, especially on the Internet. He also read about a basketball player last year being extorted (he forgot who it was, but he probably meant Terrell Brandon). It sounds unlikely, but Ethier noted that in tough economic times, people can get desperate.
Ethier said he didn’t think he was being paranoid. He wants to be cautious in the new information age.
"In the profession you’re in, it’s more likely to happen to us than regular people."
Ethier is one of the bright young faces of the Dodgers franchise, and many female fans call him a heartthrob. He is also married, shy about discussing his personal life, and relatively new to dealing with celebrity.
People react differently to it. I learned today that Joe Torre has unsuccessfully tried to shut down a fake Facebook profile, and there’s also a fake Joe Torre on Twitter. A good-natured Manny Ramirez, wide-eyed Russell Martin and brawling Brad Penny have been followed around by TMZ cameras. Joe Beimel had no problem appearing in a YouTube video to acknowledge superfan Troy from West Virginia.
Ramirez has mentioned numerous times how he thought fans in Boston were overbearing. He’s been great with fans in Los Angeles and was generous with his time at photo day as seen in this video, which features a fan criticizing Ethier for his half-hearted appearance.
"I don’t think it’s necessary," Ethier said of photos with fans. "Donald Trump doesn’t like the handshake. I’d rather give autographs.
"We’re not in the business like actors that our face sells. It’s our performance. It’s your hot bat and your hot arm that keeps you on a team. I don’t want my face out there. If it’s the right time and place, I’ll do it."
On this night, the right time and place was after a game during which he stole the show. With a great at-bat, he doubled in Ramirez for the go-ahead run. “Ethier’s got all the power,” Ramirez mused.
Being surrounded by reporters and a cameraman after the game, Ethier didn’t mind this particular spotlight so much.