Andre Ethier reported to Spring Training this year with the fractured tibia well behind him. After spending much of 2016 recovering from freak injury, Ethier said he was at last pain free. He hoped to secure a starting job in left field.
But now the Los Angeles Dodgers are poised to begin a second straight season without the services of the veteran outfielder. Ethier has yet to make a full return since being removed from a Cactus League game on March 6 due to back soreness.
The hip/lower-back issue prevented Ethier from participating in workouts, and the injury led to him being scratched from the lineup March 19. Ethier was sent for an MRI, which revealed a mild herniated disc.
X-rays and a CT scan soon followed. After going over the results with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins, it’s been decided that Ethier will not participate in baseball activity until April, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Ethier will resume baseball activity in early April.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 25, 2017
Watkins also examined Clayton Kershaw last season when he suffered from a bulging disc, and outlined a recovery path. The Dodgers, nor Kershaw, ever provided details of the plan.
Ethier is 6-for-12 with one double, a home run, six walks and two RBI in eight Cactus League games. Prior to the additional testing on his back, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the club was ‘not concerned long-term’ over Ethier’s injury.
Assuming the 34-year-old does return to baseball activities on schedule, it may then be a couple weeks until Ethier is fully prepared to join the Dodgers. Without his services, Trayce Thompson and Andrew Toles figure to be competing for the starting job in left field.