Johnson gets Ethier's playing time for now

Johnson gets Ethier's playing time for now

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Reed Johnson, batting .224, started in place of Andre Ethier on Monday against the Astros and will likely see most of the playing time in Ethier's place, along with Garret Anderson, if Ethier is not placed on the disabled list.

Ethier broke his right pinkie during batting practice on Saturday in San Diego. Johnson, 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Padres, hadn't had a hit in 14 at-bats since May 1 until his first-inning single on Monday.

"It's a lot easier when you're playing every day. You can get into a rhythm, it's definitely more of a challenge," Johnson said. "You have to get into routines to stay sharp. "It's more of a timing issue right now for me. If you looked at my swing now compared to the beginning of the season when I was hot, it'd be like splitting hairs to try to find something wrong."

If Ethier does go to the disabled list, Triple-A Albuquerque outfielder Xavier Paul would be the "logical" choice to be called up, manager Joe Torre said Monday -- assuming Paul is healthy after being removed from a game early Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Paul was hit in the head during warmups with a thrown ball and was not initially removed from the lineup, but left the game to go to the hospital as a precaution. He missed Sunday's game but was in the lineup Monday night in Salt Lake City.

Paul filled in admirably when Manny Ramirez went down with a calf strain in April, batting .276 with eight runs scored and three stolen bases in nine games. He drove in one run, walked twice and struck out seven times in 29 at-bats.