The Dodgers got bad news on Wednesday as outfielder Andre Ethier was sent back to Los Angeles to meet with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache for more tests on his ankle, manager Don Mattingly told reporters before their game against the Giants, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.
Ethier had both an MRI exam and CT scan, which showed his left ankle is improved but not healed, the Dodgers announced during the game. Ethier will be cleared to play once he is able to run the bases without pain.
Mattingly expressed concern that Ethier wouldn't be available for the NLDS, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "Yeah, I'm a little worried about him," Mattingly said, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
Ethier pinch hit on Sunday in San Diego but that is his only game played since Sept. 13. Wednesday night marks the 11th straight game Ethier is out of the starting lineup, dealing with a sore ankle.
He was originally thought to be ready to play during the series in San Francisco, but before Tuesday's opener suffered a setback while running the bases.
Ethier is hitting .272/.360/.423 in 142 games this season, including .278/.382/.503 with seven of his 12 home runs in 51 games since the All-Star break. He has started 70 games in center field this season in addition to 50 starts in right field and seven more in left.
The NLDS opens on Oct. 3, but the postseason rosters are set before each round. If Ethier is unavailable for the opening round it doesn't prevent him from playing in the NLCS or World Series if he is healthy and should the Dodgers advance that far.
If Ethier is in fact left off the NLDS roster, it gives the Dodgers a little more flexibility and at the very least improves the chances of Scott Van Slyke to make the roster. With Ethier healthy, the prevailing thought is that the final position player spot on the roster is essentially between Jerry Hairston, Dee Gordon and Van Slyke. But with Ethier unavailable the Dodgers can keep two of those players should they so choose.
If Ethier is unable to play in any of these final five regular season games, the Dodgers will have had four healthy outfielders (Ethier, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig) for all of two games this season (July 5 and July 21), and for a total of 10 innings.