LOS ANGELES — For a second straight season, Andre Ethier made the Dodgers playoff roster after missing the first five months of the season with an injury.
Last year a broken right tibia sidelined Ethier until September, and this season it was a bad back. Since his return from the disabled list in 2017, Ethier hit .235/.316/.441 with two home runs, a double, and four walks in the season’s final month.
His primary role in October will be as left-handed bat off the bench. He has a career .286/.394/.479 mark in 165 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, including .299/.400/.506 in 90 plate appearances since the start of 2014. Ethier had a pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 2016 NLCS at Wrigley Field.
“It’s a tough role, one of the toughest in baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To have done that obviously that helps him.”
In the final season of a five-year contract, Ethier has received several prolonged ovations from Dodgers fans over the last month, including at Petco Park in San Diego, where the team began September.
“It’s been a long two summers of going through these injuries and trying to fight to get back on the field. It’s been a long 12 years of playing for this organization and in front of these fans,” Ethier said. “To be for the most part forgotten because I wasn’t on the field, then to come back and them embracing me was pretty special to me.”
Most Dodgers postseason games
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Ethier is the dean of the Dodgers, having debuted in 2006. In eight of his 12 seasons, the Dodgers have made the playoffs. His 43 postseason games are the fifth-most in franchise history, and by the end of the NLDS could move into second place.
Former shortstop Bill Russell played 18 seasons for the Dodgers (1969-86), tied for the most in franchise history with Hall of Fame outfielder Zack Wheat. Russell tops the list with 49 postseason games, all starts.
“I was joking around this week with someone else,” Ethier said. “I’ve probably been in the most playoff series in baseball without winning a World Series.”
Ethier’s 1,455 regular season games played ranks 21st among active players who have never played in a World Series. His seven postseason series losses ranks second, trailing only former teammate Russell Martin — who debuted three days after Ethier in 2006 — with nine*.
*It’s really eight series losses for Martin, plus the 2014 NL wild card game with Pittsburgh.
“It’s nice being in there, but I think Bill Russell had a World Series or two in there to show for all of those playoff games,” Ethier said. “If I pass him, we know we have a pretty good chance to get there.”
Ethier has started 26 of his 43 playoff games, and figures to be more of a reserve this season, as he was in 2016. Last year, Ethier played in eight of the Dodgers’ 11 playoff games, but started none.
In regular season play, Ethier ranks eighth all-time in franchise history in doubles (303), 12th in home runs (162), 13th in RBI (687), 14th in games played and 17th in hits (1,367).
“I try to stay in the moment and not try to focus on that stuff. I don’t look at the stats until the end of the season, and I don’t look at an accumulation of my numbers,” he said. “I just try to prepare, and stay in the moment. I’ll gladly reflect on all this stuff at the end, and enjoy it. Right now, I try to take a more workman’s attitude to what I do, and stay locked in.”