Dodgers' Andre Ethier in playoff limbo

Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Andre Ethier is optimistic his troublesome left ankle will heal in time for the playoffs, but early indications suggest more is healing required.

Slow-healing left ankle has right-fielder in doubt

Outfielder Andre Ethier is averaging .272 in 142 games with 12 home runs and 52 runs batted in for the Dodgers this season. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Andre Ethier wants no part of speculation about his playoff status. 

He is still plenty optimistic his troublesome left ankle can heal in time to be part of the postseason roster for the National League West champion LosAngeles Dodgers. 

"I'm not worried about that right now, I'm worried about tomorrow," Ethier said after Wednesday's 6-4 loss to the Giants.

"So does the post-season start tomorrow? All right, so we're worried about tomorrow, it's as simple as that.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves too much here and see if we can get the best scoop, all right? So work out tomorrow and that's the scoop I'll give you for that." 

Ethier returned to Southern California earlier Wednesday to have his troublesome left ankle re-examined, then returned to the Bay Area to rejoin his club. 

While the team isn't sure whether he will be available for the NL Division Series starting next week, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game he remains hopeful the outfielder will heal. 

"It's gotten a lot better in 11 days," he said. "I think we're right at the edge of it turning the corner." 

The Dodgers announced during the game with the Giants that Ethier was examined by team orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache and orthopedic foot and ankle specialist Dr. Phillip Kwong. Repeat MRI and CT scans were performed, showing the injured area had improved but not fully healed. 

"Ethier will be cleared to return to competition when he is able to run the bases without pain," the Dodgers said. "Until then, he will continue to hit and throw as before." 

Ethier said his next step would be determined by how he feels when he arrives at AT&T Park on Thursday. 

"Five days ago, I was wearing a boot in Arizona," he said. "Yesterday, I was shagging balls in the outfield.

"So who knows? Maybe I wake up tomorrow and it feels good." 

Despite starter Ricky Nolasco's late-September struggles, Mattingly remains confident he will contribute in October. 

The right-hander (13-11) is 0-2 over his last three outings since getting victories in four consecutive starts and seven straight decisions. 

"Ricky's shown us he can throw the ball really well and he can make good pitches," Mattingly said. "I don't think Ricky has done anything that's going to change our mind." 

Mattingly said before the game he has to prepare for the fact Ethier might not be healthy in time for the playoffs. 

"I think you're always making plans with different scenarios," he said. 

"I'm a little worried about him, just because it didn't look very good yesterday and he wasn't running really very hard when it happened," Mattingly said. "Again, I'd like to be really optimistic.

"Hopefully, it's something that a couple of days maybe. It seemed like we had the same type of thing with Matt [Kemp], where it was a little anxious about turning and the next thing you know two days later he was rolling.

"That'd be great. But we'll just see." 

'Didn't go very good'

Forced to leave a Sept. 13 game against the Giants, Ethier successfully shagged fly balls Tuesday in San Francisco, but tried to test the ankle running bases and quickly encountered problems and ended the session. Ethier was expected back in the Bay Area late Wednesday. 

"He went to run bases yesterday and it didn't go very good," Mattingly said. "Just make sure we're not missing anything.

"I think they said they would rule out there's not something major going on." 

While Mattingly said he and general manager Ned Colletti have yet to sit down and hash out the first-round roster in depth, he expects to go with 25 healthy players. 

Ethier missed his 10th game with the injury Wednesday. He is batting .272 with 12 home runs and 52 runs batted in for the NL West champions. Ethier has had a strong second half and became the first player in Dodgers history to reach 30 doubles in seven consecutive seasons. 

"We have to talk about it," Mattingly said. "It's tough, you want to play healthy

"You don't really want to play short. We'll see when we get there with the roster part of it.

"The main thing now is to be able to find out if he's going to be able to go or not. We may get enough information that it's not even a question one way or the other." 

'My confidence is there'

The Dodgers lost the season series to the Giants for the second straight year, the first time dropping back-to-back season series since 2002-03. 

Nolasco is eager for another chance. 

"My confidence is there," he said. "I'm not walking guys.

"So hopefully, things will turn around as far as catching a couple breaks. I'm not knocking any of their guys, you've got some very good hitters in that lineup.

"I just feel like I'm not catching a couple breaks here and there that could change the game. I still feel good.

"I feel like I'm making good pitches. Just getting burned on some things here and there." 


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