Andre Ethier came off the disabled list Friday after two games in the minors. (Harry How / Getty Images )
To prepare himself to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday, Andre Ethier played two games with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga earlier in the week.
Ethier, who was sidelined with a strained rib-cage muscle, returned from his two-day tour of the California League in a reflective mood.
Of playing in the major leagues, Ethier said, "You just realize how much of a privilege it is. You earn it, you do, but it's still a big-time privilege to play up here."
Ethier played in the California League in 2004. He was a prospect in the Oakland Athletics farm system at the time.
"You don't realize how close you really are," Ethier said.
One month into the 2006 season, the Dodgers called him up to the major leagues for the first time. He said he tried to emphasize that point to the minor leaguers to whom he spoke.
"Some guys on that team are 160 games away from possibly being in the big leagues," Ethier said. "I can only tell them so much because I didn't believe it when I was going through it. Who knows what guys from that team will be helping this team out in two or three years?"
Ethier, who was hitless in his two games with Rancho Cucamonga, declared himself ready to play. In fact, he said he probably could have played in the Dodgers' final series before the All-Star break.
"I was out there hitting and throwing and doing everything while we were down there," Ethier said. "I was ready to come back then. But the consensus was, let's take the extra couple days and use that to our advantage and make sure everyone's healthy to come back in the second half."
To clear room on the active roster for Ethier and Matt Kemp, the Dodgers optioned utilityman Elian Herrera and outfielder Scott Van Slyke to triple-A Albuquerque.
Herrera did everything for the Dodgers in his first stint in the major leagues, which lasted two months. He started games at second and third base, as well as all three outfield positions. He batted first, second, sixth and seventh.
But Herrera batted only .141 in his last 20 games. His batting average dropped from .305 to .243 over that span.
A minor holdup
Reliever Ronald Belisario was back with the Dodgers on Friday, a day after he said he was detained by immigration officials in Miami on his return from his native Venezuela.
As a result, Belisario missed his connecting flight and didn't get to Los Angeles in time for the Dodgers' workout on Thursday.
"I was mad," Belisario said. "I was like, 'Hey, I'm going to be late.'"
Belisario said he was similarly detained when he came to the United States for spring training.
Belisario missed the entire 2011 season because he was denied a work visa after testing positive for cocaine.
Manager Don Mattingly wasn't upset with Belisario, who had a team-best 1.53 earned-run average at the All-Star break.
"He got to where he was supposed to be," Mattingly said.
The ceremonial first pitch on Friday was thrown out by Olympic beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, the wife of backup catcher Matt Treanor.... Jerry Hairston Jr. was awarded the Dodgers' winner of the Heart and Hustle Award by the Major League Players Alumni Assn. The award honors players who demonstrate a passion for the game.