Dodgers still think Andre Ethier can contribute in 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Not only was Andre Ethier a topic of conversation before Friday’s game, but the Los Angeles Dodgers still are optimistic the injured outfielder will be able to play this season.

Ethier has been out of action since fracturing a bone in his right lower leg when he fouled a ball off the side of his shin during a spring-training game March 18. He was only supposed to miss 10 to 14 weeks when his injury was diagnosed, but the 34-year-old has about doubled that timetable now.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is still holding out hope Ethier can contribute at some point.

“Dre has exchanged some text messages with some players; I haven’t talked to Dre in a couple of weeks, but as I understand it he is swinging the bat, taking some batting practice, doing some weight-bearing jogging,” Roberts said. “So September is certainly realistic, but to what capacity or extent, I don’t know.”

After a solid rebound season in 2015 (.294 batting average, .486 slugging percentage), Ethier was expected to be a key contributor to the 2016 offense.

The left-handed hitter still has one more season remaining on a five-year, $85 million contract he signed before the 2012 season. The Dodgers also hold a team option for 2018 that can be bought out for $2.5 million.