PHOENIX -- The calendar says June, but it essentially remains April for Andre Ethier, who still is not playing baseball and continues to use the gear meant to be worn in Cactus League play.
With the Los Angeles Dodgers returning to the desert Monday, Ethier was in the clubhouse, pleased to have somewhere else to go other than the club’s spring training complex in Glendale, Arizona. Ethier lives full-time in nearby Chandler.
When he fouled a ball off his right leg during an April spring training game, the original diagnosis was that his bone fracture would take 10-14 weeks to heal. Yet it has been nearly 14 weeks and he still isn’t anywhere close to a minor league rehab game, much less his 2016 debut with the Dodgers.
“I think that’s the trouble you run into when you put timetables on things,” Ethier said, wearing the Dodgers cap with the script “D” on it that players wore during spring training. “You can’t put timetables on things. I guess some injuries you can. But one like this that was -- you heard from our trainers and even some of our doctors this is only the second or third time they’ve seen an injury from this type of contact done this way. It’s tough to put a true timetable on it.”
Ethier has been told he has a spiral fracture, and in researching athletes that have dealt with his injury, he said he has come across more basketball players and skiers than baseball players. The freak injury essentially happened because Ethier fouled a ball off his lower left leg just as he was rotating it during his swing. Weakened at the worst possible time, the bone cracked in a “V” shape, but did not displace.
“You always think you can bounce back quicker than you do, and this was one of those,” Ethier said. “In my downtime I did a little research into other athletes that have suffered it and you see this is right on the timetable and is still sooner than when most of those guys returned.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Ethier will get a bone scan Thursday, and if all is well he might get back into baseball activities. All he is able to do now are one-handed swings, light games of catch, and working out on an elliptical machine.
He still would be expected to go out on a minor league rehab assignment once he gets his strength back, so returning before the All-Star break might be a bit optimistic.
“You don’t realize the importance of a weight-bearing bone,” Ethier said. “As soon as you run, jump, rotate, that’s bearing the brunt of all that weight in there. You hear fracture and you wonder why isn’t it healing like a broken thumb or finger. But it’s because it’s bearing the force of all my 205 pounds on it.”
As for that spring training cap, Ethier might just use it until he is able to make his regular-season debut.
“Basically, all I have is what was in my locker on the day I got hurt,” he said.