SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost Andre Ethier, who broke a small bone in his right pinkie finger swinging a bat before Saturday night's 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres.
Ethier, who leads the National League in all three Triple Crown categories, will return to Los Angeles on Sunday to meet with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache and hand specialist Dr. Steve Shinn at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic. Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said no prognosis for Ethier will be available until after that examination.
Ethier said his finger got pinched against the knob of his bat while he was taking a swing.
"I was just in the cage hitting, taking regular swings,'' Ethier said. "This is something I have done quite a few times before, but it's usually a sprain or a bruise. This time, it finally gave way, I think. I swung three or four more times afterward, thinking it was just a sprain. But then I sat around for an hour, and it started throbbing a little bit.
"I thought at that point that it must be pretty bad this time. I went out and played catch, and it flared back up a little bit. So then I tried to hold a bat just to see what it felt like, and it didn't feel right.''
At that point, Ethier told hitting coach Don Mattingly something serious was wrong and the decision was made to scratch him from the lineup. A subsequent X-ray showed a small fracture of a bone near the distal interphalangeal joint, which is the first joint from the tip of the finger.
There was no initial indication as to whether Ethier is likely to be placed on the disabled list. But each player holds the bat slightly differently, and Ethier indicated this injury would prevent him from holding it the way he normally does.
"It's a flexion thing,'' he said. "I kind of position that pinkie right above the knob, and it's a leverage point in my swing.''
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said if Ethier can avoid the DL, backup outfielders Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson, who started in place of Ethier on Saturday, would share time. If Ethier goes onto the DL, the most likely candidate to replace him on the roster would be Triple-A Albuquerque outfielder Xavier Paul. But Torre said Paul left Saturday night's game at Salt Lake after being hit by a ball. The only other outfielder on the Dodgers' 40-man roster is Trayvon Robinson, but he has never played above Double-A and was hitting .256 for Chattanooga through Saturday.
Ethier was off to a sizzling start to his fifth major league season, batting .392 with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 38 RBIs. He also leads 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.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.