SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier's availability for next week's playoffs is in doubt because of his ankle injury, manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday.
The club sent Ethier to Los Angeles on Wednesday for an MRI and CT scan, which showed his lower left leg had improved but not completely healed. Drs. Neal ElAttrache and Phillip Kwong, a foot and ankle specialist, cleared Ethier to return to games when he is able to run the bases without pain.
Ethier was back in the clubhouse at AT&T Park after Wednesday night's game, but wouldn't elaborate much beyond the club's prepared statement.
"I'm not worried about that," he said when asked about the postseason. "I'm worried about tomorrow. Does the postseason start tomorrow? All right then. We're just worrying about tomorrow."
Ethier originally injured his left ankle on a swing in Colorado on Sept. 4 and reinjured it on a double against the Giants on Sept. 13, the last time he played. After more than a week of therapy, he encountered increased pain trying to round the bases in a workout Tuesday, leading to Wednesday's exam.
"Yeah, I'm a little worried about him," said Mattingly. "He didn't look good and wasn't running very hard. I'd like to be optimistic. It was the same thing with Matt [Kemp] about turning [the bases] and two days later he was rolling. That would be great. We'll just see. Today we sent him to rule out anything in a different direction."
The club is calling the injury a left ankle sprain. Ethier said the discomfort he has is believed to stem from the periosteum, the sheath that covers the bones of the leg, with pain similar to shin splints.
Although he insisted the club hasn't internally set rosters, Mattingly indicated he would not be comfortable carrying Ethier for strictly pinch-hitting purposes.
"He's got to be able to run the bases," Mattingly said. "Yesterday he was a little disappointed. He had the off-day and said he was perfectly fine. Shagging in the outfield he looked really good, a little cautious, but then the turns disappointed him. The fear is it's taking longer. He's been out 11 days. We're running out of time again."
If Ethier is not on the roster, it might open a spot for Scott Van Slyke, who has played primarily outfield, or Jerry Hairston, who might otherwise be squeezed off the roster by newcomer Michael Young. As right-handed hitters, Van Slyke or Hairston would give Mattingly a platoonmate for left fielder Carl Crawford against left-handed pitching.
Dodgers sit four regulars vs. lefty Zito
SAN FRANCISCO -- While Andre Ethier is down, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said none of the other regulars left out of Wednesday night's lineup are ailing.
Mattingly sent out a lineup without Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe or Mark Ellis to face Giants left-hander Barry Zito. Nick Punto started at shortstop, Michael Young at first base, Jerry Hairston at third base and Skip Schumaker at second base.
Mattingly said matchups were part of the explanation. Although Mattingly has said he will baby Ramirez the final week, he also was 4-for-29 lifetime against Zito. Uribe was even worse (2-for-24) and Ellis was 5-for-23.
Gonzalez has a .319 average against Zito, but Mattingly said he wants to give him a preventative day off to keep his quad healthy.
Of the four fill-ins, Schumaker entered the game hitting .389 off Zito, Hairston .370 and Punto was 2-for-4. Young was hitting only .236 against Zito.
Capuano ready to return after fielding test
SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after testing a healing groin muscle in a bullpen session, Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano felt well enough Wednesday for fielding drills.
Manager Don Mattingly said Capuano was fit enough to be available to pitch Thursday, but Mattingly said he would probably wait until Friday to try to use Capuano in relief.
Capuano, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 6, is trying to make the Division Series roster as a third reliever, or at least be ready to pitch in a later series if needed. The Dodgers bullpen, however, is crowded without Capuano.
Closer Kenley Jansen is a given, as are lefties Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell. Brian Wilson now appears to be the primary setup man, pushing Ronald Belisario down a notch, with Carlos Marmol, Chris Withrow and Brandon League vying for spots in what figures to be a seven-man relief corps.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.