WASHINGTON — The Dodgers’ season is unraveling. But unlike last year, Andre Ethier has a chance to do something about it.
“For the most part, I’ve achieved my goal of staying on the field,” Ethier said.
Ethier’s injury-plagued 2011 season ended here at Nationals Park, where the Dodgers shut him down and sent him to Alabama to get his ailing right knee to examined. He later had minor surgery.
Ethier’s only significant injury this year came in the middle of the season when he strained a side muscle. He sat out 11 games.
A blister on Ethier’s right hand ruptured last month and exposed a considerable amount of raw skin, but the problem turned into a blessing.
Unable to swing the bat normally without feeling pain, Ethier took Manager Don Mattingly’s advice and started choking up.
“I’m still choking up,” Ethier said. “It depends on how I feel that particular at-bat and what someone’s going to try to do to me.”
Doing so shortened his swing, which improved his numbers.
Though his form has been obscured by the Dodgers’ collective slump, Ethier is batting .330 over his last 26 games. Seven of his 19 home runs have come in that span.
“Sometimes you’re too stubborn to do new things,” he said. “Things have worked in the past, so you expect them to keep working. Most of the time, they do. But sometimes, little changes help you for the better.”
Kenley Jansen appeared in a game for the first time since he was hospitalized in Colorado at the end of last month because of an irregular heartbeat.
Jansen entered with two outs and a man on first base in the seventh inning. Jayson Werth stole second base, but Jansen forced Ryan Zimmerman to ground out to second base. Jansen threw three pitches, the fastest clocked at 92 mph.
“I felt great,” Jansen said. “I felt really good, strong.”
Jansen was unable to pitch for the last three weeks because he was on blood-thinning medication.
“You feel a little weird,” he said. “It’s been a while.”
Harang to pitch on short rest
Aaron Harang will pitch the Dodgers’ series finale in Cincinnati on Sunday on three days’ rest.
The move became necessary because of a rainout Tuesday.
Mattingly’s options for Sunday were to start September call-up John Ely or pitch either Harang or Josh Beckett on short rest. Harang and Beckett pitched in the Dodgers’ doubleheader on Wednesday.
Harang lost and pitched only 4 1/3 innings. Beckett pitched 7 1/3 innings.
“I didn’t throw a whole lot of pitches yesterday,” Harang said. “I didn’t feel like I was pitching in a lot of super-stressful situations.”
In the three times in his career he pitched on three days’ rest, Harang is 1-2 with a 5.50 earned-run average. The last time he did it was in 2008 for the Cincinnati Reds. He was charged with six runs and 10 hits in four innings in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Chad Billingsley, who has been shut down for the season with elbow problems, will start a throwing program Friday. Based on the success of that program, Billingsley will decide whether to continue his rehabilitation or undergo reconstructive elbow surgery. … Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s humanitarian honor.