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.