SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers will wait at least until Monday and probably Tuesday to make a decision on whether to place Andre Ethier on the 15-day disabled list because of the broken first knuckle on his right pinkie. Ethier met in Los Angeles on Sunday with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache and hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin after suffering the injury taking batting practice before Saturday night's game.
Apparently, there is no actual treatment for a fracture this small. It simply has to heal on its own. Thus, the decision with Ethier will hinge on whether he can swing a bat with some degree of comfort despite the broken bone.
The left-handed hitting Ethier said after Saturday night's game that with his particular way of holding a bat, the little finger of his right hand is a leverage point in his swing.
"I think we have to wait,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Sunday, just after the team completed a perfect six-game trip with a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres. "It will have to be immobilized. A lot of it will depend on what we find out in the next couple of days, what his comfort level is after we give it a day or so to let some of the soreness get out of there and see what he can do with it.''
Torre said a splint will have to be applied to the finger, something else that would almost certainly have some impact on Ethier's swing.
Although the Dodgers have continued to roll in the two games they have been without Ethier, his absence leaves a glaring hole in the lineup. Ethier was off to a sizzling start to his fifth major league season, batting .392 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs, leading the National League in all three categories at the time of his injury. He also led the majors with a .744 slugging percentage and is second in the NL with a .457 on-base percentage. He is hitting .490 (24 for 49) so far in May, with five home runs and 19 RBIs.
The Dodgers did get some good news concerning minor league outfielder Xavier Paul, the player whom they almost certainly would call up if Ethier were to go on the DL. Paul is expected to return to Triple-A Albuquerque's lineup on Monday after being hit in the head by a thrown ball during batting practice before Saturday night's game at Salt Lake. He went ahead and played that night, but he left the game after two innings and also missed Sunday's game.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.