Andre Ethier scratched from Dodgers’ lineup in Game 2 of NLCS; Hanley Ramirez a game-time decision.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier played 13 innings in center field in Game 1 and will start Game 2 on the bench. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier played 13 innings in his first game in the field since Sept. 13.

That was more than enough for one day — or two.

Saturday, Ethier arrived at Busch Stadium feeling sore and was given a day off in favor of Skip Schumaker in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that X-rays on Ethier’s left leg came back negative, but Schumaker will bat seventh and play center field against his former employer, the St. Louis Cardinals.

“He was sore at the end of the game last night,” Mattingly said, which is something that Ethier wouldn’t admit to when surrounded by reporters in the wee hours Saturday morning.

Regardless, Ethier is available to pinch hit and double-switch late in the game today, Mattingly said.
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Andre Ethier bats seventh for Dodgers in Game 1 of National League Championship Series.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier went 0 for 3 with a walk in four pinch-hit appearances in the National League Division Series. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)


Andre Ethier is back in the Dodgers’ starting lineup tonight, playing center field and batting seventh, for the first time since Sept. 18.

“I just wanted to see how things responded last night,” said Ethier. “I didn’t wake up feeling sore.”

Ethier has been running bases and shagging fly balls in center field for the better part of the last week. His performance in yesterday’s team workout at Busch Stadium, and the health of his left ankle today, counted for a lot.

“A lot of things we’ve seen yesterday we really liked,” Mattingly said. “At first it wasn’t as good as I would have liked but as the day went on, he got better and better out there in center. He goes, does a lot of things, making turns. So it feels like at least he’s back today. We don’t know how he responds after a game of Major League Baseball, not just a workout.”

Ethier was 0-for-3 with a walk in four pinch-hitting appearances in the National League Division Series against the Braves. He’ll swap spots on the bench with Skip Schumaker, who was 3 for 13 (.231) with two RBIs and three walks in the series.

“Worst-case scenario, (Ethier) would be back to a pinch hitter or something possibly tomorrow, then another day off,” Mattingly said. “But the best-case scenario is obviously that he’s going to be able to bounce back and tomorrow he’ll be fine.”

The Cardinals will use the same lineup they used in Games 3, 4 and 5 in the National League Division Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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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:
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Skip Schumaker in center field, Yasiel Puig bats fifth, in Dodgers’ Game 1 lineup.

Ryan Braun

Skip Schumaker is 4 for 9 with a double in his career against Kris Medlen. (Getty Images)

Skip Schumaker will start in center field and bat seventh, as Andre Ethier will be relegated to the bench, for Game 1 of the Dodgers’ National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will load up the middle of the lineup with power bats: Hanley Ramirez is hitting third, Adrian Gonzalez fourth and Yasiel Puig fifth, with Carl Crawford leading off for the first time since Sept. 8.

Puig has batted fifth only once, an Aug. 25 game against the Boston Red Sox. He finished 0-for-3.

There were fewer surprises in the Braves’ lineup, which has had little success against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in the past.

Four Braves positional starters have career at-bats against Kershaw: Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. They’re a combined 5 for 47 (.106) with 17 strikeouts; Heyward has struck out in all four plate appearances against Kershaw.

Only Mark Ellis hasn’t faced Atlanta starter Kris Medlen among Dodgers position players. A.J. Ellis (1-for-1), Hanley Ramirez (5-for-9), Skip Schumaker (4-for-9) and Yasiel Puig (1-for-3) are a combined 11-for-22 in their careers against Medlen. Adrian Gonzalez (0-for-8), Juan Uribe (0-for-7) and Carl Crawford (0-for-3) are still looking for their first career hit against the right-hander.

The full lineups for both teams:
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Dodgers announce their National League Division Series roster.

Paco Rodriguez

Left-handed pitcher Paco Rodriguez and right-hander Ronald Belisario (right) are both on the Dodgers’ roster for the National League Division Series (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)


Andre Ethier will be on the Dodgers’ active roster for the National League Division Series, the team announced today. So will speedster Dee Gordon and rookie outfielder Scott Van Slyke.

However, utility player Jerry Hairston Jr., pitchers Carlos Marmol, Brandon League and Edinson Volquez won’t be available when the Dodgers begin play tonight in the best-of-five series against the Atlanta Braves.

The availability of Ethier, who injured his lower left leg (including the Achilles heel, ankle and shin) in early September, has been in jeopardy for weeks. Even Wednesday, he was seen limping onto the field for a team workout. He will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties while Skip Schumaker assumes the starting center fielder’s job.

Conversely, Gordon will likely be limited to pinch-running duties. He’s been taking reps in center field, as has Van Slyke, who gives the Dodgers some power (.803 OPS in 53 regular-season games) off the bench.

The absence of Hairston isn’t a big surprise. He batted .143, with one home run in 42 games, after the All-Star break. A back injury had also been bothering him recently.

A bigger surprise was the inclusion of Chris Capuano, who started 20 games in the regular season, as a left-handed relief pitcher. Ricky Nolasco was chosen over Capuano and Volquez to start Game 4, and Volquez had pitched consistently in a fifth starter’s role while Capuano missed three weeks in September with a strained left groin. The Dodgers already have two left-handers in the bullpen, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, though Rodriguez has struggled with his control in September.

Still, Capuano didn’t allow a run in three September relief appearances. His final start of August was stellar (7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s against the San Diego Padres), and his experience at age 35 might have played to his advantage.

Right-handers Marmol and League have experience too, and had to be among the toughest decisions for manager Don Mattingly. Marmol went 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 relief appearances after being acquired in a midseason trade with the Chicago Cubs.

League, signed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal last fall that made him the Dodgers’ highest-paid reliever, struggled mightily in August and September. He allowed 25 hits in 19 appearances the last two months, including three that left the park. League also has no postseason experience.

The Dodgers’ complete roster (the Atlanta Braves’ roster can be found here):
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Daily Distractions: Rosters for Atlanta Braves, Dodgers becoming more notable for their expensive absences.

Dodgers workout

The healthy portion of the Dodgers’ roster worked out at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. (David Crane/Staff photographer)


In a span of days, the Dodgers-Braves series has become more noteworthy for who won’t be on the field than who will.

The Atlanta Braves announced their roster Wednesday morning, and second baseman Dan Uggla will not be on it. Nor should he be; Uggla is hitting .179 — the lowest full-season average for a qualifying hitter since Rob Deer in 1991 (also .179). Elliot Johnson has gotten more time at second base in September and hit a more respectable .261. Johnson is also the better fielding second baseman, by a little.

The Braves also chose 36-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia over left-hander Paul Maholm. That makes Garcia look like the favorite to start a possible Game 4 in Los Angeles on Monday.

Maholm is making $4.25 million this year. Uggla is making $13 million. And those expenses hardly compare to the Dodgers’ bench.

Andre Ethier ($13.5 million) might not be available for the Division Series because of his bum left ankle. Matt Kemp ($20 million) has already been ruled out. Forget about injured pitchers Chad Billingsley ($11 million) and Josh Beckett ($15.75 million).

There are still some tough decisions for the Dodgers to make, though not as expensive. Their roster must be submitted to the league by 7 a.m. Pacific Time tomorrow. Rosters are submitted to MLB’s baseball operations department on a form that the league prepares, and are usually scanned back to the Commissioner’s Office.

It’s an important piece of paper, but the missing names might be more interesting.

Some bullet points for an Oct. 2 (Happy Birthday mom!):
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Daily Distractions: Back injury puts Jerry Hairston Jr.’s playoff availability in jeopardy.

Jerry Hairston Jr.

Dodgers veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. is batting .211 this season in a reserve role. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the “Petros and Money Show” on 570-AM (KCAL) yesterday that Jerry Hairston Jr. is fighting a back issue that might keep him off the Dodgers’ playoff roster.

“It’s something we’re debating,” Colletti said.

Hairston, one of seven Dodgers with World Series experience, is batting just .143 in the second half of the season in a reserve role.

Colletti responded to a question specifically about whether he would choose the experienced Hairston over younger shortstop Dee Gordon.

“We’re also debating Dee,” Colletti continued. “He brings speed to the game. If you watched our games against Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, you saw the effect of a Billy Hamilton. If you paid attention when we weren’t playing him you saw the game-changing aspect of it. He’s somebody we’re thinking about.”

Colletti added that he’s hopeful that Andre Ethier will be healthy enough that “we’ll be able to use him to some extent starting Thursday.” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Ethier is likely to be used in a pinch-hitting role at the outset.

Some bullet points for a World Vegetarian Day:
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Ailing Andre Ethier leaves Dodgers, availability for playoffs remains up in the air.

Andre EthierAndre Ethier left the Dodgers briefly Wednesday to have MRI and CT scans on his sprained left ankle in Los Angeles. The team announced that the sprain hasn’t healed, and Ethier won’t be cleared to play until he is able to run the bases without pain.

Ethier attempted to run the bases below full speed prior to Tuesday’s game in San Francisco, but cut the session short. His availability for the playoffs is still to be determined.

The National League Division Series begins Oct. 3.

Dodgers’ Andre Ethier lifted from loss to Giants with tightness in left ankle.

Andre Ethier

Dodgers athletic trainer Nancy Patterson Flynn, left, accompanies Andre Ethier off the field in the eighth inning. (Associated Press photo)

Andre Ethier was removed in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday with a sore left ankle, a scary moment 24 hours after Hanley Ramirez was forced out with a nerve issue in his back that affected his hamstring.

Ethier, however, said he’s been able to play through the injury for the better part of eight days since he turned the ankle on an aggressive swing in a game against the Colorado Rockies. He doesn’t expect to miss much time.

“I’m just a little sore today,” Ethier said. “He (manager Don Mattingly) didn’t feel like I could score from second (base) so we got somebody else out there.”

Ethier was replaced by pinch runner Dee Gordon after clubbing his team-leading 33rd double of the season. He said the ankle “tightened up on me” running from first to second base. Mattingly and athletic trainer Nancy Patterson Flynn went to second base to check on Ethier.

“They asked if I could score on a ground ball to the outfield. (I said) ‘I’m not sure. I’m not sure I could make that turn and go.’ ”

Ethier finished 1 for 3. He was replaced in center field by Yasiel Puig, with Jerry Hairston Jr. playing the final inning in right field.

Mattingly was asked after the game why he was optimistic about Ethier being able to recover quickly.

“Three or four days ago it was sore and it went away,” the manager said.