(Photo Credit: Allan Henry/USA TODAY Sports)
As fans are gearing up for a start from resident ace Clayton Kershaw at the onset of the Miami series this weekend, the Dodgers may be in store for a boost in the offense with a possible return from veteran outfielder Andre Ethier.
Since beginning his rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga late last month, he’s hitting .290/.343/.419 with four doubles, three RBI and seven runs scored over 35 plate appearances in nine games. He has also proven that he’s capable on defense, having manned both corner outfield spots on multiple occasions.
Ethier was in the dugout during the team’s victory over the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, and will undergo another medical evaluation after the Quakes’ playoff opener against Lancaster on Wednesday.
It’s still up in the air as to how the Dodgers plan to utilize Ethier if he does indeed return. Skipper Dave Roberts indicated sometime between now and Friday’s contest against the Marlins that team officials plan on sitting down with the 34-year-old to discuss the remainder of the season.
“I think [Wednesday] he’s supposed to play in Rancho Cucamonga again and at that point we will re-evaluate. As I said from the beginning, I want to leave it up to ‘Dre and trust his knowledge of his own swing, where he is physically and defer to that,” Roberts said. “We’re going to have a conversation here in the next couple of days and try to figure out what is best for him and for us.”
With rookie starting pitchers Julio Urias and Ross Stripling presumably coming close to their predetermined innings limits, veteran southpaw Scott Kazmir may also be on the fast track to joining the club very soon.
Kazmir is scheduled to start for Triple-A Oklahoma City in Wednesday’s playoff opener against Nashville, hoping to log somewhere around six innings or 90 pitches. If all goes according to plan, he’ll return to the big league club about five days later, conceivably in time to start the opener of the Yankees series on Monday. If there’s any deviation in the agenda, rookie righty Jose De Leon will be ready to step in his place.
Brandon McCarthy made a rehab appearance for Rancho on Monday, as the righty veteran saw his first action on the bump since the middle of last month. He pitched four innings in the 10-5 loss to Modesto and allowed 10 total runs, five of which were earned, and gave up nine hits, including three home runs.
McCarthy threw 79 pitches, 61 for strikes. Scouts clocked his fastball as high as 92 MPH.
“It wasn’t bad, just moving along,” McCarthy told Craig Minami of True Blue LA. “To gain some consistency back, just pitching, face hitters again, make some progress, there wasn’t any one thing, but it was really just get back to pitching.”
As of Tuesday, there haven’t been any further discussions on what’s next for McCarthy.
“I don’t know, I know we will probably talk today or tomorrow and then kind of figure it out, where we go forward,” he said. “We are kind of coming to the end of minor league games and what are options are, but for right now, I got nothing.”
In regards to a possible return by veteran lefty Brett Anderson, the 28-year-old had problems with a blister resurfacing during his rehab appearance last Saturday in Rancho Cucamonga. The Dodgers plan on reassessing the injury once the blister shows signs of healing.
In the meantime, rookie Brock Stewart will start the series finale against Arizona on Wednesday. Thursday will be a travel day, then Rich Hill is penciled in to throw in Saturday’s game after Kershaw pitches the opener against Miami on Friday. Kenta Maeda is slated to start the series finale on Sunday.