CHICAGO -- The way injured outfielder Andre Ethier was launching balls out of Wrigley Field in batting practice Tuesday leaves the Dodgers optimistic he'll be back in right field by next week.
Ethier has made dramatic progress in his recovery from a broken finger because of a splint that immobilizes the broken joint in the little finger of his right hand. He was able to catch, swing off a tee and hit soft-toss over the weekend, but Tuesday was his first day hitting live batting practice.
When Ethier was injured while taking batting practice May 15, the prognosis for his return was anywhere from two to six weeks. At the time, he was leading the league in all three Triple Crown categories -- batting average, home runs and RBIs.
"He's doing a lot of things we didn't anticipate this early," said manager Joe Torre. "We want it to feel normal. The last thing we want is to get him into bad habits. If it's uncomfortable, you know he'll have trouble doing it."
Ethier is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday. He is scheduled to participate in a simulated game Saturday in Denver with Vicente Padilla, who is also on the DL, pitching.
If it goes well for Padilla, who has been on the DL since April 23 with an inflamed radial nerve, he could be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment of about three starts.
And if the simulated game goes well for Ethier, he might not need any Minor League rehab assignment and be activated Monday.
Troncoso finds flaw in delivery
CHICAGO -- Ramon Troncoso thinks he's figured out why he's allowed three home runs in his past two appearances, with his ERA jumping from 3.48 to 5.06.
"I was watching videos of last year, and I see that sometimes I lean too fast," said Troncoso. "When I stay back, my sinker moves like it used to. That's not an excuse, it just happens sometimes."
And when Troncoso leans, bullpen coach Ken Howell said, Troncoso's sinker flattens, because his arm can't catch up to his body.
We just have him lift his leg straight up before he moves his hand, and everything flows way better," said Howell. "It was just a hiccup that hopefully we got ironed out."
Troncoso already leads the club, and is tied for fourth in the league, with 24 appearances.
Monasterios named Friday starter
CHICAGO -- Rookie Carlos Monasterios will return to the fifth-starter spot for the Dodgers and pitch Friday night in Colorado, manager Joe Torre announced Tuesday night.
Monasterios, whom the Mets selected in December's Rule 5 Draft and then traded to L.A., is 1-0 with a 1.91 ERA. He has made only one start this year, going four innings on May 1 against the Pirates in a game the Dodgers won, 5-1. He gets the call over Ramon Ortiz, who has made two starts, lasting a total of 7 1/3 innings while allowing eight runs.
By placing reliever George Sherrill on the 15-day disabled list, the Dodgers have 11 pitchers for the first time this year, and the club is expected to add a reliever by Friday. Torre said Monasterios would pitch Friday to give Hiroki Kuroda an extra day of rest.
In other pitching news, Vicente Padilla is making a steady recovery from an irritated radial nerve. He threw breaking balls on flat ground Tuesday for the first time and is scheduled to throw a simulated game Saturday in Denver, with Andre Ethier among the batters. If that goes well, Padilla is likely to head out for a Minor League rehab assignment.
Charlie Haeger made his third Minor League rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Monday night. He allowed two runs in six innings and made 94 pitches, but Torre said he also aggravated the plantar fasciitis that put him on the disabled list. Nonetheless, he is scheduled to start at Inland Empire on Saturday, Torre said.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.