GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Reliever Matt Guerrier said he tried too hard last year to prove his worth to the Dodgers.

Signed to a three-year, $12 million deal to be a middle reliever, Guerrier took the ball 70 times. He started the season with nine consecutive scoreless outings, was especially tough against left-handed hitters (.204) and held opposing batters to a .211 average after the All-Star break.

But as the season came to a close, Guerrier told manager Don Mattingly his first year with the Dodgers was a tough one after establishing himself over six seasons with Minnesota.

"I don't think it was about justifying the deal. I'm OK with that. It was more over-trying," said Guerrier. "I felt I had to prove myself to the staff that I was good enough to pitch in every situation. I'm never going to live up to that deal unless I come with a sub-2.00 ERA. ... I didn't feel like, at times, they felt I could do certain things, and I tried extra hard to show them and I think that held me back."

Guerrier said he was healthy the entire season and he had no complaints about the usage, even though his number was called early and often as Vicente Padilla opened the season on the disabled list and Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo struggled.

"I love the use," Guerrier said. "I want to be the guy they go to. I felt like I was early on. I showed I could go out and they could rely on me. I just felt that maybe that changed throughout the season as things progressed. I wasn't as effective as I wanted to be, no matter what anybody said. I wasn't happy. I know I'm better than that. I want them day in and day out to know what they're going to get. It was frustrating for me."

Ethier focused on preparation, not contract

Lyons on a possible Ethier bounce-back season

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Andre Ethier checked into Dodgers Spring Training camp Saturday, ready to work on his free-agent season, if not talk about it.

"I can't tell you what will happen with that," Ethier said when asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension after the Dodgers are sold at the end of April. "The only thing I can change is the way I play. Today is today, and that's all I can handle. I'm here to play for today."

Ethier is returning from a second consecutive season marred by injury. In 2010, his spectacular start was undermined by a broken little finger that robbed him of power. He played through most of 2011 with a knee injury that diminished his power before ultimately submitting to September cleanup surgery.

A two-time All-Star, his home run totals have gone from 31 to 23 to 11, while his average has been .292 the last two years.

Eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this month, he instead agreed to a one-year deal for $10.95 million (he made $9.25 million last year) after talks for a multiyear deal broke down, while rich extensions went to MVP runner-up Matt Kemp (eight years, $160 million) and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw (two years, $19 million). General manager Ned Colletti said last week he'd still like to get an extension done with the right fielder.

When pressed about his curt answers, Ethier said:

"It's just the way I'm going to approach the game. I can't control things in the past or in the future, I can only prepare for the future by focusing on today. Every day I'll come in here to get better, to help my teammates do better. That's my main goal going forward. I'm not looking ahead. Head down and focus on today."

Ethier said he has been doing all baseball activities and offered no indication of any trouble with his repaired right knee. But he bristled when asked if he felt the 2012 season was a chance for redemption.

"Not at all," he said. "Just winning games, that's what it's all about. We've had an awful last couple of years and it's not fun. We've got to get back to a winning team."

Uribe ready to bounce back at third base

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Juan Uribe checked into Dodgers camp Saturday speaking of wounded pride from the 2011 season and looking to bounce back in 2012.

Uribe, 33 next month, was signed to a three-year, $21 million contract after World Series heroics in 2010. He started off his Dodgers stint with an injury-riddled disaster last season, hitting .204 with only four homers, 28 RBIs and ending it with sports hernia surgery.

He's already got an issue to deal with this year: He's being sued in a Monday civil court case in San Francisco for kitchen fire damage in an apartment he rented while he played for the Giants.

Manager Don Mattingly said he expects Uribe to miss a day or two of practice for the trial. When he returns, he will be anchored at third base all season rather than moved around the infield as he was last year.

"Juan at second doesn't feel right for me," said Mattingly. "We think third is his best position. My thought is to keep him in one spot. He's got sure hands, sure arm and a good feel for the game. He struggled offensively and that got a ton of attention, but he's a good defender."

Mattingly said he didn't feel Uribe's unusual body type looked much different last year or this year than it did in previous years. And he said he's sure last year's struggles took a toll on Uribe emotionally.

"He probably doesn't share it with you, but as a player when you struggle, guys are bothered by that," said Mattingly. "You can talk all you want about the money, but when you have a bad year, I don't care who you are you're going to feel bad about it. You don't have to talk to him to know it bothered him."