Dodgers uncertain how long Andre Ethier will be out

Reporting from San Diego -- Andre Ethier is the latest in a string of injured Dodgers, but the right fielder’s absence is the biggest blow so far this season.

And the length of that absence was unknown as of Sunday, Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said.

Ethier broke a small bone in his right pinkie during batting practice here Saturday, and he returned to Los Angeles so that doctors could further examine the injury Sunday.

“My guess is we’re going to wait a couple of days” to decide whether Ethier will have to go on the 15-day disabled list, Torre said. “By that time we should have a clearer idea of where we’re going, if he’s not going to stay active.”


Torre explained that Ethier, 28, has a habit of tucking the finger under the handle as he grips the bat and that it was pinched severely enough to cause the fracture.

“It’s just something he did with his usual routine; it was just one of those things,” Torre said. “It’s disappointing, but those are the potholes you have to deal with.”

Entering Sunday’s game, Ethier led the league with a .392 batting average and 38 runs batted in, and he was tied for the home run lead with 11.

Rafael Furcal, also on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, said Sunday he did not know how soon he might return or whether he would need additional rehabilitation games in the minor leagues.


The Dodgers had hoped to reactivate the shortstop Friday for the three-game series with the Padres, but the injury hadn’t completely healed.

And starting pitcher Vicente Padilla, also on the disabled list with a sore nerve in his right throwing arm, isn’t expected to return until next month but continues a steady rehabilitation.

As Torre was speaking to reporters before Sunday’s game, Padilla returned to the dugout from throwing lightly and, as he walked by Torre, flashed him a thumbs-up sign.

Ortiz redux

With Padilla still recovering, right-hander Ramon Ortiz is scheduled to have his second start for the Dodgers on Wednesday — five days before he turns 37 — against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

On Friday, Ortiz made his first major league start in three years against San Diego at Petco Park, giving up three earned runs in four-plus innings as the Dodgers won, 4-3. His previous appearances this year had been in relief, including May 8 when he threw five innings against the Colorado Rockies.

“There’s really nobody other than [rookie Carlos] Monasterios that would be a consideration” for Wednesday’s start and the Dodgers opted for more experience, Torre said.

“When we started Monasterios the one time [May 1] we had Ortiz behind him because we thought that was a security blanket for him,” Torre said. “But when Ortiz gave us those 80-plus pitches out of the bullpen” against the Rockies “it gave us a little better feel for how long we can get out of him.”


And finally

Before Sunday’s game in which he scored the winning run, Jamey Carroll had played all but two innings at shortstop since Furcal’s injury and batted .328 in that span. … The Dodgers open a seven-game home stand Monday against the Houston Astros.

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