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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Daily Distractions: Vin Scully returns, dissecting the trade, real best songs of the millennium.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is returning to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth in 2014. (photo by J.P. Hoornstra)

The Dodgers announced this morning that Vin Scully will return in 2014, calling all games in California and Arizona as he’s done the past two seasons. It will be Scully’s 65th season behind the mic, and he’ll talk more about it at 2:45 p.m. today. (Follow along on Twitter and Tout for live updates.)

Scully said in a statement released by the team this morning that, “other than being home with my family, there is no place else I’d rather be” than Dodger Stadium. Few would disagree that Scully still sounds right at home in the booth.

Consider this: When he began broadcasting Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950, the team had yet to win a World Series. Three years later, at the age of 25, Scully became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game.

The Dodgers would love to give him one more before the year’s over.

Some bullet points for a Remembrance of the Slave Trade Abolition Day:
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Daily Distractions: Marlins-Dodgers matchup presents a few juicy subplots.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu will get a look at Jose Fernandez‘s 99-mph fastballs tonight. (Associated Press photo)

A Dodgers-Marlins series in mid-August has no plot really, only subplots. The hottest team in baseball against the team with the National League’s worst record? Move along, nothing to see here.

The Dodgers are 7 ½ games ahead of Arizona in the National League West. The Marlins are 6 ½ games behind (ahead of?) the Astros for baseball’s worst record and the first pick in next year’s draft. Wins and losses are probably only news if the Dodgers lose today — it will be their first back-to-back losses since June 20 and 21. So there’s that.

There’s something else, actually. Subplots galore.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup pits a pair of rookies, Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and 20-year-old marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who have carved opposing paths to the distinction of National League’s best rookie pitcher. (Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Jim Henderson probably have something to say about this.) The Palm Beach Post notes that at 139 ⅔ innings, Fernandez is approaching his limit of roughly 170 innings before being shut down.

Ryu is starting his 24th game of the season today, and is scheduled to make eight more starts after this one, not including playoffs. His career high is 30 starts, which he compiled six years ago as a 20-year-old in Korea. Ryu would have to pitch another 63 innings to reach his previous career high; assuming he averages seven innings per start, he’ll get there. Direct comparisons are difficult to draw, since Ryu typically threw fewer pitches per inning in the KBO, so it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers handle him in September.

In Miami, the more closely watched rookie matchup will be between Yasiel Puig and Fernandez. The two Cubans have reportedly never faced each other.

We’re also looking forward to seeing Nate Eovaldi again on Wednesday. More on him in a couple days.

A few more bullet points for a Monday morning:
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