Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier undergoes MRI exam on sore lower back
Andre Ethier underwent an MRI exam on his balky lower back on Monday morning, which invited the specter of serious injury into a Dodgers spring that has otherwise been free of such ailments.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated the results of the examination would not be announced until Tuesday. Ethier will receive three or four days off to rest, regardless of the diagnosis. Before he underwent the test, Ethier indicated he was not particularly concerned with his condition.
“I’m walking. I’m moving,” Ethier said. “We’re just trying to get our hands around what can make it comfortable for consecutive days, rather than one, two, three days in a row.”
Ethier was not the only Dodgers outfielder on the mend Monday. The team scratched Yasiel Puig from a game against Cleveland because of tightness in his left calf. The injury occurred while Puig was stealing a base Sunday, and the discomfort lingered a day later.
“He went through the [workout] and just said there was a little something there,” Roberts said. “So I just took him out of the lineup.”
Puig could play on Thursday. Ethier might not.
Ethier has been sidelined because of soreness in his back and his hip for most of the spring. He took an at-bat as a pinch-hitter on Friday and produced two hits while playing the outfield Saturday. On Sunday, his back could not loosen up before the game.
“It’s spring training. If it was the season, I would probably be playing through it and finding a way to get going,” Ethier said. “But right now, it’s not that time of year to be doing that.”
Ethier understands the perils of spring. He suffered a fractured leg on a foul ball last March and missed almost the entire season. Given Ethier’s travails in 2016 and his utility in 2017, Roberts acknowledged the significance of a potential injury to his left fielder.
“For us, it would be devastating, [and] for him,” Roberts said. “We’ll hold our breath and think for the best.”
Urias back, but unlikely for opener
A recent bout with strep throat has confirmed the obvious with Dodgers lefthander Julio Urias: It is increasingly unlikely that he will begin the season as a member of the starting rotation.
“It would be unrealistic to say he would start the season built up completely,” Roberts said. “The door is not closed. But to say that he would be built up to 100 pitches is probably unrealistic.”
Which means a series of unfortunate events would be required for the Dodgers to need Urias. The team has Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood prepped for the start of the season, with Hyun-Jin Ryu also making progress. Ryu could leap-frog Wood for the last spot in the rotation, though the Dodgers may be more likely to give Ryu some minor league outings to test his readiness.
Urias, 20, returned to camp after dealing with his illness for three days. His throat was inflamed. He had trouble swallowing, which led to hunger and fatigue, and Roberts indicated the team needed to monitor him on Monday to check his readiness.
Urias hoped to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. But he had not been informed on when he might pitch in a game again. He recorded only two outs in his last outing.
“I’ve said it since the beginning, I’m fighting for a spot in the rotation,” Urias said through an interpreter. “It seems like this is the way they’ve been managing me. This is a decision I have to respect. I have to continue doing my job and I have to continue putting up numbers.”
The Dodgers are expected to limit Urias to somewhere between 160 and 180 innings this season. The team wants him to be available in September and October, which is why Urias could begin the season in extended spring training, waiting for his opportunity in the majors. Given the organizational depth, the Dodgers can stash Urias there until he’s needed.
“Fair or unfair, right or wrong, that’s a luxury we do have,” Roberts said. “We have the depth with the starting staff. To curtail or monitor Julio’s innings, which we’ve done, is obviously prudent.”
He added, “It’s not easy. But there’s really no right way to handle this. He’s a special player.”
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