Andre Ethier said it has been only recently that his swing, and thus his confidence at the plate, has completely recovered from a broken finger he suffered in mid-May.
It's been "probably the last two, three weeks that I feel like I've gotten my full strength back, where I could say it's almost back to 100% strength-wise in my hand and I feel like I can grab and swing the bat the way I want," he said.
"I'm not going to use that as a crutch and say that's why I didn't hit or did" during the rest of the season, Ethier said Saturday before the Dodgers lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-2, at Chase Field. But he acknowledged that "it affects your body, your mind, your confidence."
With seven games left in the regular season, Ethier was hitting .287 with 23 home runs and 79 runs batted in. Last year, the left-handed batter hit .272 with 31 homers and 106 RBIs.
When examining the Dodgers' disappointing season, Manager Joe Torre repeatedly has pointed to the struggles of players in the middle of the batting order, including Ethier, Matt Kemp and James Loney.
"I just still think it's the lack of the mental aptitude to just fight your way through it," Torre said Saturday. "They let the frustration take over."
Ethier, 28, agreed that "individuals like me have to find a way to pick it up" next season.
The Phoenix native was off to a torrid start this season when he broke a small bone in his right pinkie May 15. At the time, he was leading the National League with a .392 batting average and 38 RBIs, and he was tied for the home run lead with 11.
Ethier returned 16 days later, but "I came back too early, probably [by] a week or two," he said Saturday. He was voted a starting outfielder on the All-Star team, but after the All-Star break Ethier went into a four-for-35 slump.
Asked how the injury affected his swing, Ethier said, "I didn't purposefully change it, but it did change because of the injury.
"I have a swing where I don't finish with two hands, I finish one-handed with the hand I had the broken finger on," he said. "So there were some swings where I felt like, at the end of it, I'm fighting just to hold on to the bat.
"A month ago, some swings I felt like I was still letting the bat go," Ethier said. But he added that he has since regained enough strength in the hand that it's no longer an issue.
Ethier also said the absence of slugger Manny Ramirez for much of the season because of leg injuries — before the Chicago White Sox acquired Ramirez on a waiver claim Aug. 30 — had a bearing on his hitting compared with early this season.
"I wasn't going to be the same hitter if I don't have the same lineup around me," Ethier said.
Ethier also missed four games in April with a sore ankle and, combined with the finger injury, "I missed 20 games," he said. "If you add those 20 games into [the total], my big numbers are right there where they were last year."
John Lindsey, the first baseman who played in the minor leagues for 16 years before the Dodgers called him up this month, broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson. But Lindsey said he was not discouraged and plans to be at spring training next year. ... Rookie right-hander John Ely (4-9) lost his fourth consecutive decision, giving up four runs and seven hits to Arizona in 51/3 innings. ... Hudson (8-2) held the Dodgers to two hits in 82/3 innings.