Still wearing splint, Ethier activated by LA
Right fielder back in starting lineup; Paul sent to Triple-A
LOS ANGELES -- He was the hottest hitter in baseball at the time he went on the disabled list, and for the start of a season-long 13-game homestand on Monday, the Dodgers got him back.
Right fielder Andre Ethier, who led the National League with a .392 average, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs when he fractured his right little finger in mid-May, was activated from the disabled list and Xavier Paul was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque before the start of Monday night's game with the D-backs. Ethier was in the lineup batting third.
"It's still broken, but it's just not as painful," Ethier said. "I thought it was good Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought it was good enough to play then. It was nice to have that extra couple days to let it rest. It was a situation where you didn't really know what was going to happen, didn't know how my hand was going to react. I guess they took the safer route and I went on the DL for 15 days."
Ethier will continue to wear a splint indefinitely and said he has not been X-rayed yet to check on the progress of the finger, which is expected to take another two to four weeks to heal.
In two rehab games for Albuquerque on Friday and Saturday, Ethier went 3-for-5 with four runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. The small amount of playing time that it was, Ethier said he was put through the paces enough to feel confident: He got jammed once and hit a ball off the end of the bat.
The injury is more of a hindrance to Ethier on defense, because he feels pain when he opens his hand, less so when he's closing it, as he would to grip a bat. The most frightening moment of Ethier's time in Triple-A came on a running play when the back of his hand hit the wall.
"It's nice that nobody was knocking on my door or calling me last night, because that would've only meant bad news," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That was probably a little scary to watch. Everything worked well. He had a number of at-bats and he's ready to go."
Ethier said he has gotten used to the splint, using his full right hand in daily activities instead of trying to avoid the finger. He changes the splint, which is not a traditional metallic splint but made of bandage fabric and does not immobilize the entire finger, about three times a day. For extra cushion, Ethier added a piece of fabric toward the knob of his bats, where the finger rests.
Paul batted .286 (8-for-28) with a double and five RBIs in 10 games in his second stint this season with the big league team, which began on May 18.
Haeger trying to recover from turf toe
LOS ANGELES -- Once his turf toe has healed, Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger feels he won't need another rehab start before being ready to pitch again in the big leagues.
"I don't think there's any need for that," he said Monday.
Manager Joe Torre said the team hadn't decided how it will approach Haeger's schedule.
Haeger, 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in four starts for Class A Inland Empire since going on the disabled list on May 9, is no longer bothered by the heel injury that took him out of Major League action in the first place. He has turf toe, a more common injury in football, in his right foot after making a pickoff move in his second-most recent start, on May 24. Haeger said he isn't bothered when pitching, but does feel the toe when running.
"He does admit it would affect his fielding and covering first, and that's enough of a reason to shut him down," Torre said. "It certainly has to get better than it is right now."
Haeger said he benefited from Class A pitching coach and former big league knuckleballer Charlie Hough's tutelage. Haeger's Major League numbers have not been pretty: He's 0-4 with an 8.49 ERA in seven games, five starts. But he said he's not worried about whether another poor stint in the Majors could result in his release. Haeger is out of options.
"I haven't really thought about it, nor will I, really," Haeger said.
Reliever Troncoso gets back on track
LOS ANGELES -- Ramon Troncoso (1-1, 4.74 ERA) has held the opposition scoreless in his past two outings, on Friday and Sunday against the Rockies, both Dodgers wins. He struck out two, allowed one hit and no walks in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Manager Joe Torre doesn't think it was coincidence that the reliever turned himself around in Colorado after allowing five runs over his previous three appearances, none longer than an inning.
"I probably feel best when I bring him in against [the Rockies]," Torre said. "Last year he had that four-inning save against them there. At that point, I think he sort of said, 'Look at me.' Sometimes that's what happens against certain teams, whether you're a hitter or a pitcher."
Troncoso has a 2.66 ERA in 20 1/3 innings against the Rockies in his career.
There has been some shuffling around Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario and closer Jonathan Broxton in the bullpen. Travis Schlichting was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque after Sunday's game, and left-hander Scott Elbert was sent down.
Meanwhile, starter Vicente Padilla, on the disabled list, is slated for another simulated game in the bullpen before making a rehab start, and reliever George Sherrill is halfway through his 15 days on the DL.
Dodgers host veterans for Memorial Day
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers hosted about 1,000 veterans and active-duty military personnel for Memorial Day, and both the Dodgers and D-backs wore a white cap with the stars and stripes sewn into the logo.
Gigi Theocharides, a member of the Army, sang the national anthem and "God Bless America." Military members also threw out the first pitch and were escorted out to the mound by former Dodgers who served their country: Don Newcombe, Rick Monday and Roy Gleason.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.