Daily Distractions: Andre Ethier in center field? ‘If we get it, it’s a nice surprise.’

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance in Game 1 on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Andre Ethier ran out a ground ball to first base on Thursday night, and his left foot didn’t fall off.

Better yet, there seems to be some improvement in the health of the Dodgers’ center fielder, who’s been limited to pinch-hitting duties in the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Ethier “could possibly stay in the game if it’s the right situation” if he reaches base in Game 2 tonight.

That’s an important step forward for a player who limped onto the field for warmups Wednesday and still doesn’t look completely right compared to his healthy teammates. Ethier injured his left ankle in early September and has two at-bats in the past three weeks.

Still, Mattingly doesn’t expect to get Ethier back in the outfield before the series ends.

“I haven’t really counted on it,” the manager said Friday. “As the days go on, it just gets better and better. But I’ve really kind of resigned myself to the fact that this guy’s coming off the bench. If I’m able to get that, fine. But I’m trying to get Scott (Van Slyke) some time out there, as far as work. Dee (Gordon) is getting some time in, just in case of emergency. Hopefully this thing just keeps getting better, but we’ll see.

“If we get it, it’s a nice surprise.”

The plan, then, is to keep Skip Schumaker in center field, with Van Slyke the backup. Schumaker is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup for Game 2.

Some bullet points for a National Taco Day:

• How a lot of complaining and a little help got Vin Scully in sync last night.

Yasiel Puig got in the Braves’ heads last night simply by showing up at the ballpark, colleague Vincent Bonsignore writes.

Chipper Jones picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves.

• The Reds fired Dusty Baker today. To be fair, he did ask for it.

• Is Scott Boras bringing another Korean star to MLB?

• Just another day at the office for Alex Rodriguez, who sued Major League Baseball. I enjoyed reading Craig Calcaterra’s breakdown of a “wild case,” and why it might end before it begins.

• MLB issued a statement in response: “For the more than four decades that we have had a collective bargaining relationship with the Major League Baseball Players Association, every player and club dispute has gone through the jointly agreed upon grievance process. This lawsuit is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement. While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint, none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”

Steve Garvey is going on tour with the World Series trophy.

• Former Dodgers outfielder Gary Sheffield is joining TBS’ postgame studio show this weekend.

• Let’s all thank television for keeping newspaper ad sales alive.

• Daedalus gave us a new song today:

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