The 2017 season has been another lost one for Andre Ethier due to an injury suffered in Spring Training. Last year, he sustained a complex fracture as a result of fouling a ball off his tibia. This year, Ethier was hampered back trouble which an MRI revealed to be a herniated disc.
The Dodgers initially were optimistic the veteran outfielder would make a relatively quick return. However, residual discomfort prevented Ethier from beginning baseball activities and continued to delay his timetable.
A potential date of return eventually slipped to after the All-Star break. Now Ethier is set to begin a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that puts Ethier on track to be reinstated from the 60-day disabled once active rosters expand in September, according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“He hasn’t played for quite some time so, for me, it’s going to be a Sept. 1 activation,” Roberts said. “And get as many at-bats as he can while the minor-league season is still going.”
Despite being limited to just 16 regular-season games upon returning from his leg fracture, Ethier was included on the Dodgers postseason rosters for the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series.
Ethier appeared in eight playoff games off the bench, going 2-for-6 with one home run and one walk. His pinch-hit single in the eighth inning of NLDS Game 4 set the stage for Chase Utley’s go-ahead single.
Since debuting with the Dodgers in 2006, Ethier has appeared in at least 130 games in all but his rookie season, last year and this season. This may very well be his final season with the Dodgers, as the team holds a buyout on his contract for 2018.