As fortunate as the Los Angeles Dodgers were when Corey Seager avoided a major knee injury and now is in the process of recovering from a left knee sprain, they were not afforded such luck with Andre Ethier.
After multiple days of not improving from fouling a ball off his sin, Ethier was sent for a bone scan. While an x-ray on Friday didn’t show any broken bones, the CT scan revealed Ethier sustained a right tibia fracture that will keep him out 10 to 14 weeks.
The soon-to-be-34-year-old described the pain he endured as being in the “top three” he’s ever felt. In 10 Spring Training games, the veteran outfielder hit .435/.517/.652 (10-for-23) with one home run, one triple, five walks and four RBIs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts experimented with batting Ethier leadoff, and said it was a strategy he was likely to utilize during the regular season against right-handed starting pitchers.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes Ethier’s injury was a bout with bad luck and said he remains an important part of the club’s plans, via ESPN:
“It’s a freak injury,” said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. “You see plays all the time where guys foul a ball off their leg, and very rarely does it result in this. But it is what it is, and he’s motivated to work very hard to get back as soon as he can. Obviously, we were counting on him being a big, big part of our success this year, and we’re still counting on him.”
Friedman also said Ethier will be reexamined in roughly one month to check the progress in his recovery, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“We’ll re-X-ray it in four to five weeks and to the extent it’s healing properly, it might be sooner. If not, it might be longer. The range is not incredibly precise.”
Ethier wears knee pads and shin guards under his baseball pants, but said the ball managed to find the small area of his leg that’s uncovered. He acknowledged a change to larger shin guards, which he isn’t a fan of, may be necessary.
Ethier is coming off a bounce-back season in which he batted batted .294/.366/.486 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 53 RBIs, had a .366 wOBA and 137 wRC+ over 142 games. He was slated to enter this season as the Dodgers’ starting left fielder, a message that was conveyed to Carl Crawford just over weeks ago.
Crawford and Scott Van Slyke are now expected to form a platoon, with Trayce Thompson potentially in line for a roster spot, and Kiké Hernandez a candidate to spend some time in left field.