Andre Ethier's injury obviously is a loss for the Dodgers, but whether the team can keep winning without him will depend more on its pitching staff, Manager Joe Torre said Tuesday.
"We've been playing very well as a team here," Torre said after the hot-hitting Ethier was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken bone in his right pinkie. Going forward, "it's all going to be based on how well we pitch. But long term you're going to miss him because you know what he brings to the table."
Ethier injured the finger during pregame batting practice Saturday in San Diego and sat out the next three games before the Dodgers decided to put him on the disabled list.
Before Tuesday's game at Dodger Stadium, the left-handed Ethier said that the finger typically drops below the knob of the bat as he swings, but this time it got severely pinched behind the bat handle as he swung hard.
"I felt like I sprained it bad, like I've done before doing it," the right fielder said. "[I] sat around for an hour and an hour later it was big and swollen. The part that makes it bad is the team part, I mean we've really come together as a team."
Through Monday, Ethier led the National League in batting average (.392) and runs batted in (38) and was tied in home runs (11).
He has no plans to change how he holds the bat, or his swing, to accelerate his return.
"The good thing we have right now is it's still a little bit early enough" in the season "to give it a little time for the bone to heal enough," he said.
The Dodgers recalled outfielder Xavier Paul from triple-A Albuquerque to take Ethier's place on the roster.
Paul was struck in the left side of the head by an errant throw Saturday night during warmups in Salt Lake City but said Tuesday he was "doing fine now."
"Fortunately it caught me on the jaw, it just missed my temple area," said Paul, who played with the Dodgers this season when Manny Ramirez was on the disabled list. "It could have been a lot worse."
The Dodgers went on their eight-game winning streak as third baseman Casey Blake began re-growing his beard. Coincidence?
"The team needed it, I did it for the team," Blake coyly replied when asked about the beard. "We're on a pretty good streak. People seem to want it back."
Or did Blake start growing the beard again to change his luck at the plate? He began Tuesday's game with a .233 batting average.
"No," he said, adding with a smile, "What's wrong with my batting average?"
Paul hit in the leadoff spot a few times when he previously was with the Dodgers, but Torre said he planned to keep catcher Russell Martin batting first. "He's comfortable there right now, he's been doing a good job," Torre said. . . . During the first eight games of the team's winning streak, Dodgers relievers gave up only two runs in more than 20 innings for a 0.90 earned-run average and limited opponents to a .134 average.