Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Update on Ethier's condition heading into the NLDS

As Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves is only a day away, Andre Ethier does not appear to be anywhere close to full health.  Rather, it looks like he will be on the active roster, but only to pinch-hit.

The biggest factor going against Ethier is simply time, as he is slowly progressing, but not nearly fast enough to give it a full go.  He initially was hurt on September 4, aggravated it further on September 13, and hasn't started a game since.  He tried to workout in San Francisco not long ago, but felt too much discomfort when trying to round the bases.

With that said, Don Mattingly will make a few adjustments.  First, he'll put Carl Crawford back in the leadoff spot, allowing Yasiel Puig to move down to the #5 spot behind Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez for his run production.

Also, this could mean that guys like Jerry Hairston, Scott Van Slyke, or Dee Gordon could find themselves on the roster.  Hairston and Van Slyke could see time in the outfield, and Gordon might get some action in the "Billy Hamilton" pinch-running role.

I have to wonder, though, if keeping Ethier active is truly worth it.  I'm reading about keeping his bat active for late-game situations, something he's excelled at in the past.  But can he still contribute that way with a bad ankle?  With runners in scoring position, he hit .228.  With the bases loaded, he hit .143.  In late or close situations, he hit .218.

Not exactly numbers that ring "Get that guy in there!" late in a big spot.

I admire Ethier for his desire to stay in there, especially with Matt Kemp suffering his 93rd injury of the last couple of seasons, KO'ing him for the playoffs already.  I'm just a little worried that the Dodgers will expect him to come off the bench in a big spot and deliver.  He couldn't do it healthy, so I'm doubting it will happen on one good leg.

Then again, maybe he'll turn back the clock 25 years and deliver his own Kirk Gibson moment when we least expect it.

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