Andre Ethier returns to Dodgers’ lineup

With a splint on his right pinkie finger and foam pad on the knob of his bat, Andre Ethier returned from the 15-day disabled list Monday for the Dodgers’ series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Making his first start since May 14 but still entering the game as the Dodgers’ leader with 11 home runs and 38 runs batted in, Ethier insisted that his new accessories weren’t indications that his swing was in any way impaired by his fractured digit.

“It’s still broken, but it’s just not as painful,” Ethier said. “Just sore.”

He said he didn’t feel any discomfort when swinging the bat in the two games he played for triple-A Albuquerque in Memphis, Tenn., over the weekend.

“I got jammed once and I didn’t feel it,” he said.

Playing defense is more problematic. The fractured finger is on his glove hand.

“It’s more putting your glove and opening it up,” he said.

Ethier said that the only time he felt pain in Memphis was when he made a play at the warning track, which resulted in his glove hitting the wall.

Ethier was hitless in four at-bats Monday.

Padilla, Sherrill to see game action

Opening day starter Vicente Padilla is scheduled to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment Thursday by pitching three innings for Class-A Inland Empire. Padilla, who pitched in a simulated game Saturday, has been sidelined with a nerve problem in his throwing arm since April 23.

Left-hander George Sherrill, who is on the disabled list with what the Dodgers are calling “mid-back tightness,” will start his rehabilitation assignment with Inland Empire on Tuesday. Sherrill is scheduled to pitch again in Class A on Thursday and will join triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend.

Haeger not worried

If Charlie Haeger is right, he could be less than a week away from making his next start — meaning judgment day might be around the corner.

But while Haeger has a 0-4 record and 8.49 earned-run average, he said he hasn’t given any thought to what continued failure could mean for his future with the Dodgers. The journeyman knuckleballer appeared to be a candidate to be released until he was placed on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis on May 9.

“I’m only going to be able to control what I’m going to be able to control,” Haeger said.

Haeger was scheduled to start Tuesday until he came down with a case of turf toe in his last rehabilitation start with Inland Empire. (Haeger said he thinks he can return in a few days, but Manager Joe Torre hinted that his minor league assignment could be extended because of his latest setback.)

Haeger said he thinks he got himself straightened out working with Inland Empire pitching coach Charlie Hough.

“I just found my release point,” Haeger said. “Unfortunately, if my release point is off, it turns into big numbers.”

Short hops

The Dodgers made room for Ethier on the active roster by sending Xavier Paul down to Albuquerque. Paul batted .286 with a double and five runs batted in in the 10 games that made up his latest stint in the majors… . Cory Wade, who underwent shoulder surgery in March, started throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona last week.

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