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03/12/12 9:37 PM ET

Ethier returns from mid-back stiffness

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Andre Ethier returned to the Dodgers' lineup Monday after being scratched Saturday with a recurrence of mid-back stiffness.

Manager Don Mattingly originally planned to have Ethier be the designated hitter in the game against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz., but Ethier and trainer Sue Falsone agreed that he would be better off playing the outfield instead of sitting in the dugout for extended periods, Mattingly said.

"It sounds like he's totally fine," said Mattingly. "I didn't know if DH would be better for him, but she felt to keep him running would be better for him."

Ethier played five innings and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the first inning of the Dodgers' 9-1 win.

Ethier has had back issues since moving boxes at home just before camp opened. Nonetheless, he is off to a fast start offensively, going 5-for-8 with a home run and four RBIs coming off September knee surgery.

Mattingly said infielder Russell Mitchell will be held out of games for a day or two as a precautionary measure after slightly hyperextending his arm. He was able to do all activities.

Despite homer tear, Rivera still refining swing

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Juan Rivera is a man of few words in any language, but the Dodgers picked him up to hit, not to talk.

After starting the spring 0-for-9, Rivera is on a home run tear, slugging three in his last three games. He homered, doubled and drove in four runs Monday in a 9-1 win over his former club, the Angels.

Despite the recent power surge, Rivera said he's still not where he wants to be by Opening Day.

"My swing is not 100 percent. I don't care about the home runs," said the shy Rivera, who was claimed for the $20,000 waiver price from Toronto at the All-Star break last summer and drove in 46 runs, second highest second-half total on the club, with a .344 average when runners were in scoring position.

That was good enough for the Dodgers to bring him back with a one-year deal for $4 million contract and an option/buyout for 2013. Returning was an easy choice for Rivera, too.

"I was comfortable when I got to L.A.," he said. "That's why I wanted to come back. I know the city, the stadium is good for a hitter. I like the National League."

Roadblocks to roster don't deter Sellers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- After a 36-game taste of the Major Leagues last year, infielder Justin Sellers saw the Dodgers sign not one, not two, but three free-agent infielders (Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston and Adam Kennedy) over the winter.

"It was frustrating a little bit, but it made me work harder and gave me a little fire to come out and work my butt off, that's what it did for me," said Sellers, who slugged a three-run homer in Monday's 9-1 over the Angels.

Sellers, a long shot to make the Opening Day roster if the veterans are healthy, had a pretty good adviser on the battle of making it and sticking. His father, Jeff Sellers, pitched parts of four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, which also means he pitched parts of four seasons in the Minor Leagues.

"My dad talked about it all the time," said Sellers. "You can't control that. I just have to play my game every day. Of course he's a big influence being there for me. He would tell me stuff he saw when he was playing. Kennedy, Ellis, those are vets and I can't control it. I just have to play as hard as I can to help this team."

Sellers, who hit .203 in his debut stint, is batting .385 this spring. Manager Don Mattingly said Sellers won't be helping the Dodgers by trying to hit home runs.

"When he got back to the dugout, the first thing I told him was to hit the ball to right field next at-bat," Mattingly said. "He knows he has to. He led the team in fly-ball percentage last year. I don't want to see him trying to hit home runs. We know he can pick it. We know he's not afraid. He has to keep working on his swing to keep the ball down."

Pitching prospect Withrow impressing Dodgers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Former first-round pick Chris Withrow is in the role of Rubby De La Rosa from a year ago, a Double-A prospect who looks like he's ready to help the Dodgers sometime this year.

De La Rosa made that impression last spring after half a season at Double-A. He was in Los Angeles by May but undergoing Tommy John surgery by August.

The Dodgers don't want a replay with the Withrows and Nathan Eovaldis, so they signed Aaron Harang (three innings, one run Monday) and Chris Capuano (he starts Tuesday) to fill out the starting rotation. But Withrow, ranked by MLB.com as the Dodgers' seventh-best prospect, took his turn Monday after Harang, keeping the Angels scoreless for 2 2/3 innings, which included getting Albert Pujols to ground out.

"He looked good," manager Don Mattingly said. "He was really sharp. You talk about Chris and Nathan. Chris might have the best stuff in the system. He has a chance to be really, really good. He's coming. What we're seeing is pretty good."

Mattingly said, however, that the plan is not to use Withrow or Eovaldi as a reliever just to get them to the big leagues. That's why the Dodgers have a large group of non-roster invitees in camp battling Josh Lindblom for the last bullpen spot.

"We don't want to stop his progress," Mattingly said of Withrow. "Last year we did it [in September] with Nate to keep his innings down and give him experience. We didn't want to shut him down completely."

Withrow is 22 and pitched at Double-A Chattanooga for the second full season last year, going 6-6 with a 4.20 ERA.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.