The Los Angeles Dodgers weren't pointing fingers at each other at the end of April when a five-game losing streak put them six games out of first place. And now that they're back within striking distance of the NL West lead, the only finger that concerns them is Andre Ethier's broken right pinky.
Ethier was placed on the 15-disabled list Tuesday for the first time in his five-year career, four days after a freak mishap in the indoor batting cage at San Diego's Petco Park left him with a fracture in the top knuckle of his finger after it slipped off the knob and shifted to the other side of the bat handle.
"It's disappointing. I took pride in playing every day and playing through some of the nagging stuff," Ethier said. "This is a year that has challenged me more in terms of playing every day.
"There was the knee that held me out the last couple of games in spring training, and then there was the ankle thing in the second game of the season. Those are bigger things that you expect to hold you out, but a small little chip of a bone off your pinky, that was the last thing I thought about at this point."
The Dodgers made the move before their game against Houston, which happened to be Andre Either Bobblehead Night.
"Whenever you lose one of your best hitters, obviously it's something that you've got to figure out a way to make up for," general manager Ned Colletti said. "He's a middle-of-the-order bat, and his ability to hit in the clutch is well above average."
Ethier has 11 walkoff hits since the end of the 2008 season, six of them home runs. His two game-ending hits this season were an RBI single on April 15 against Arizona and a grand slam on May 6 against Milwaukee.
"Individual performance is nice and definitely makes you feel a little bit better about yourself at the end of the night," Ethier said. "But when we're sitting two games out at this point in time after being six out, that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, not to be out there and help keep this thing going."
Ethier entered Tuesday leading the majors with a .392 average and 38 RBIs, and also was tied for the league lead in home runs with 11.
"What makes it bad is the team part," Ethier said. "We're really coming together as a team, and it's been a long month and a half to get ourselves into the position we've gotten ourselves into right now. So to be missing time because of something like that is the tough part."
The Dodgers' entered Tuesday on en eight-game winning streak, their longest since a nine-game stretch in 2006. The primary reason is a pitching staff that has fashioned a 1.75 ERA over the past eight games.
"We really haven't skipped a beat because of the pitching, but you know long-term you're going to miss Andre because of what he brings to the table," manager Joe Torre said. "We just thought the safest thing was to do what we did with him. I think it could be anywhere from two to three weeks. If it's longer, it's longer. But we have to make sure we take care of it now. I'm just glad we have the bench we have."
The Dodgers recalled outfielder Xavier Paul from Triple-A Albuquerque. Paul played nine games for Los Angeles this season.
"We're not going to go out and make a trade for somebody, because, what do we do with him when Ethier comes back? Right now we just have do get through this short-term," Colletti said. "Last year we lost Manny [Ramirez] for 50 games [because of a drug suspension], so things like that happen. Let's see how it goes."