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Dodgers' Andre Ethier says he can play the field

Outfielder has a strong workout after being limited to pinch-hitting in division series.

October 10, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

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ST. LOUIS — Andre Ethier was optimistic Thursday about his chances of playing center field either as a starter or substitute in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

"It's definitely looking like I'll play defense on the field," Ethier said. Manager Don Mattingly said Ethier could be in the starting lineup.

On Thursday, Ethier underwent what he described as his toughest workout since Sept. 13, the day he injured his lower left leg. Ethier hasn't started a game since then. He was limited to pinch-hitting in the NL division series.

"I got out there, fielded, hit, ran the bases, went back out there to field," Ethier said. "Just trying to simulate game activity."

Ethier was pleased with how his leg responded to a slightly less strenuous workout in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"It's still a little painful, but I was able to keep doing things, keep pushing further," he said. "I was able to run bases pretty decent. I was able to chase balls in the gap, stop, plant. It wasn't getting worse as I kept pounding it."

The decision whether to start Ethier is likely to be a game-time decision, according to Mattingly.

How much Ethier can do will dictate other roster decisions. For example, if Ethier remains limited to pinch-hitting, the Dodgers could continue to carry 14 position players, as they did in the division series. If the medical staff decides Ethier can run the bases and play defense without significant risk, the Dodgers could add a pitcher.

Rotation mystery

Zack Greinke will start Game 1 of the NLCS. Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco will start the next two games in some order, Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he would consider starting Greinke or Kershaw on three days' rest, as he did Kershaw in the division series. Mattingly wouldn't offer any specifics, other than to say he has ruled out starting Greinke in Games 1, 4 and 7, which would require him to pitch twice on three days' rest.

Greinke wouldn't say if he would be open to pitching on short rest. "I mean, I could probably respond to it," he said, "but I might give information out that we might want to keep secret, so I just won't respond to that question for that reason."

Still no Craig

First baseman Allen Craig won't be on the Cardinals' NLCS roster. He remains hobbled by a sprained left foot that has sidelined him since Sept. 4. Craig finished eighth in the NL with a .315 average.

Kelly named Game 1 starter

With ace Adam Wainwright and rookie Michael Wacha unavailable, 10-game winner Joe Kelly will pitch Game 1 for the Cardinals.

Kelly, who played at Corona High and UC Riverside, started the season in the bullpen. However, injuries forced the Cardinals to move the right-hander into the rotation and he responded by going 9-3 with a 2.28 earned-run average in 15 starts.

"To be named a Game 1 starter, when he told me that, I got chills and goose bumps," Kelly said.

Kemp surgery

The minor surgical procedure Matt Kemp underwent Tuesday to clean up his left shoulder went as expected, according to the Dodgers. Kemp will be in St. Louis on Friday to cheer on his teammates.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

Times staff writer Kevin Baxter contributed to this report.

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