Ethier returns to lineup

Saying he received assurances from the Dodgers’ medical staff that Andre Ethier’s knee wouldn’t worsen, Manager Don Mattingly reinserted the All-Star right fielder into the lineup Monday.

“We’re not going to do any damage,” Mattingly said. “We’re not taking a shot at blowing an anterior cruciate ligament.”

Ethier said on Saturday the Dodgers told him to play hurt, only to claim a day later that the decision to do so was his.

Ethier declined to speak Monday, but agent Nez Balelo said his client was committed to playing out the remainder of the season, provided his discomfort doesn’t increase. Ethier is expected to undergo minor surgery in the off-season.


“Andre is taking this injury day to day,” Balelo said. “His goal is to be able to play out the rest of the season without allowing it to get worse. If it does get worse, then he’s going to shut it down, get surgery and start the rehab early so he’s 100% healthy for the 2012 season.”

Balelo said General Manager Ned Colletti is on board with the plan. Colletti declined to field any questions related to Ethier, as did trainer Stan Conte.

Asked why the Dodgers wouldn’t shut down Ethier and encourage him to have surgery now, Mattingly replied, “I’m fine with that if that’s what everyone wants to do. It’s his choice he wants to play. It’s always been his choice.”

Told Ethier’s comments read as if he wanted the Dodgers to make the decision for him, Mattingly replied, “I can’t read into comments. I have to go by what he tells me. All my conversations with him, there’s been no talk about him wanting to be done. I’ve never heard anything about I can’t play anymore.”

Mattingly said he checks in regularly with his injured players.

But couldn’t Mattingly understand why a player might be reluctant to be honest about his health if doing so would make him appear weak?

“I do understand that,” Mattingly said. " Casey Blake’s in that boat. Guys want to play. I understand all that.”

While Balelo declined to comment on most aspects of the latest controversy involving his client, he wanted to make clear that Ethier isn’t trying to talk his way out of town. Ethier won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season.

“No matter what people speculate and what people say, Andre wants to stay in L.A. for next year and the rest of his career,” Balelo said.

Surgery for Uribe?

If Juan Uribe’s strained abdominal muscle doesn’t heal, the infielder could be forced to undergo surgery, Conte said.

For now, the Dodgers have opted for a more conservative treatment, of which Conte said he remained optimistic. An operation would sideline Uribe for eight to nine weeks.

“Even in the worst-case scenario, we’re confident he’ll be ready for spring training,” Conte said.

Short hops

Shortstop Dee Gordon, who is on a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, is expected to be activated from the disabled list Thursday. ... A minor- league pitcher will be promoted to start Thursday in Pittsburgh, Mattingly said. The move is to give the members of the rotation an extra day of rest.