Andre Ethier has been in the major leagues since 2006.
But it was Tuesday when he really arrived.
After a dazzling start to his 2010 season, fans voted the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder into the National League's starting lineup for the All-Star Game. He also led the player balloting for outfielders.
Ethier, who is batting .324 with 14 homers and 54 RBI as the season resumes Thursday in St. Louis, recognizes the accomplishment inherent in both votes.
"To get voted in by the fans ... that's a validation not only of your home fans," Ethier said, "but everyone else ... giving you the affirmation that you're a good player, and you're one of the deserving eight for the National League."
The player vote, he believes, reflects not just his play in 2010, but also his 4-1/2 major league seasons in which he has a solid .295 average and the most walk-off hits in the major leagues. Last season he had 31 homers and 106 runs batted in.
"I guess they've somewhat paid attention and believe in the way I've played the last couple years," he said. "And it's nice to have that nod of confidence from them."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy isn't surprised by the standing Ethier has achieved.
"He's gotten better, as a hitter, as a defender," Bochy said. "He's got the whole package. He's a tough out.
"There's no certain way to pitch him. He used to chase pitches, but now he's more disciplined at the plate. He's a great player."
That was not always evident to others during Ethier's formative years. After enrolling at Arizona State, coaches told him that they did not believe him to be a Division I talent. So he transferred to a Phoenix-area community college, batted .468 and returned to ASU, where he batted .371, closing with a 23-game hitting streak before leaving for the professional ranks in 2003 after being drafted by Oakland.
"In college, he was our best player," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, an ASU teammate and offseason neighbor. "We had a lot of good players, but he was probably our most consistent. He drove in the big runs.
"I knew he'd be good in the pros, especially when he got a little stronger."
Ethier himself didn't necessarily come to that conclusion until reaching Class AA in 2005. Playing for Oakland's team in Midland, Texas, he batted .319 with 18 homers and 80 RBI and was named Texas League player of the year.
"That's when that belief and that confidence really grabbed hold," Ethier said, "and I knew I had a legitimate shot of making it up here."
Traded to the Dodgers that winter in the deal that sent Milton Bradley to Oakland, he made his Dodgers debut on May 2, 2006, and never looked back.
He began this season in torrid fashion. He was batting .392 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in mid-May when he suffered a broken finger. He admitted to wondering what might have happened if the injury hadn't forced him onto the disabled list.
"But at the same time," he said, "I feel like I'm having a good year regardless of it, even (with) not having a great month after I came back."
Ethier batted just .220 with one homer and nine RBI from May 31, when he came off the DL, to the end of June. His frustration boiled over more than once in that stretch, most visibly when he hammered part of the Dodger Stadium bat rack after lining out in a game with the Angels.
"He's always been intense because he wants to win," Pedroia said. "I'll take a guy who gets mad when he doesn't get a hit over a guy who doesn't care."
Ethier pulled out of that slump going into the All-Star break, hitting .390 with a pair of homers in his 10 July games. He now believes he tried too hard to get back to his pre-injury level too quickly.
"It's something I've definitely learned now," he said. "I think it's going to make me better for the long run, but it wasn't fun going through it."
Now, with the All-Star Game behind him, he's focusing on bigger things, for himself and the Dodgers.
"Two games away from the World Series two years in a row -- I can't tell you how much more the frustration builds each day when you think about that. ...
"I think we have enough talent with the players we have to do what we want to do, which is to win. I'd take as much pride and responsibility in getting there as anyone on the team."