Andre Ethier returns to Dodgers

All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier returned to the Dodgers after missing the last two games to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple's second child, a boy, over the weekend.

The clubhouse --and lineup card -- he returned to weren't all that familiar however.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre penciled the struggling left-handed slugger into the sixth spot in the lineup for Monday's game against the San Diego Padres. It is the first time this season Ethier has batted sixth. He's hit third in 74 of the 85 games he's appeared in this season.

Ethier went 1 for 5 with two strikeouts in the Dodgers' 10-5 loss.

Ethier has been in a wicked slump since the All-Star Break however, entering Monday hitting just .135 (7 for 52) with 15 strikeouts since playing in his first All-Star Game. The Padres also had a left-hander, Clayton Richard on the mound. Ethier was batting just .222 against lefty's this season.

"Well with the left-hander and him just getting back ... it's just trying to get him out of the spotlight somewhat," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before the game. "He's fine with it."

Torre has experimented with his sluggish lineup in recent games. Sunday he batted Rafael Furcal in the No. 3 spot in the lineup but the Dodgers were shutout for the 11th time this season and lost their fifth straight to fall to fourth place in the NL West and eight games behind the Padres.

Before the game, general manager Ned Colletti joined the team for its usual meeting before the first game of a new series. It seemed to underscore the seriousness of the situation the Dodgers find themselves in at the moment, but Colletti downplayed his presence at the meeting afterwards.

"We made our statement the other day by acquiring Scott [Podsednik] and Ryan [Theriot], Ted [Lilly] and Octavio [Dotel]," Colletti said. "If we didn't have confidence in the group we wouldn't have done that. We don't make moves just to make moves."

Torre said the team discussed how to move past its obvious frustration with how it has performed recently, but wouldn't elaborate on anything specific that was talked about in the meeting.

"They're frustrated right now, which to me is an emotion that doesn't really get you anywhere," Torre said. "I'm satisfied with the effort. To me it's more than effort though. It's about patience. It's about the grind you have to go through. You really can't allow yourself the luxury of frustration."

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.