Andre Ethier returns to L.A. for tests

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers sent Andre Ethier back to Los Angeles on Wednesday for further tests on his injured left ankle, putting the outfielder's availability for the first round of the playoffs in serious question.

The 31-year-old Ethier was examined by team orthopedist Neal ElAttrache and ankle specialist Phil Kwong and underwent MRI and CT scans. According to the Dodgers, the examinations showed that the injury to his lower left leg had improved but not completely healed and that Ethier will be able to continue to hit and throw. He will be cleared to resume playing when he is able to run the bases without pain.

"Yeah, I'm a little worried about him, just because it didn't look very good yesterday and he wasn't running very hard when it happened," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Ethier had to cut short his baserunning workout Tuesday at AT&T Park after experiencing soreness. The National League West champion Dodgers have just four regular-season games remaining after Wednesday.

Ethier said he's day to day and even intimated he could return as soon as Thursday.

"Five days ago, I was in a [walking] boot in Arizona. Yesterday, I was shagging balls in the outfield," he said. "If tomorrow it feels good, we'll see."

If Ethier is healthy, the Dodgers will have four every-day players vying for three outfield spots in playoff games. Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are the other three. But Mattingly said it's unlikely Ethier will make the Dodgers' roster for their first-round playoff series if he isn't entirely healthy.

"We wouldn't want to play short," Mattingly said.

Ethier, batting .272 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs, has been out since Sept. 13 with the injury, although he had a pinch-hitting at-bat Sunday in which he struck out. The Dodgers were fortunate Kemp returned from a lengthy stint on the disabled list just three days after Ethier was hurt. Kemp again has taken over center field, batting .330 with two doubles and a home run in eight games since he returned.

The Dodgers originally hoped Ethier would be in Tuesday's starting lineup. He returned to San Francisco in the middle of Wednesday's game and was in the Dodgers' dugout for the latter innings.