Outfielder Andre Ethier is doubtful for opening day. The club announced after the veteran received an MRI on his ailing back. The MRI revealed that Ethier actually has a mild disc herniation. There are no reports as to how long Ethier may be out for, but it’s pretty unlikely he’ll be ready for opening day.
Of course we all remember Clayton Kershaw’s herniated disc in 2016 that was considered mild as well. He was out over two and a half months. Apparently Ethier also received an epidural injection. He will return to camp on Thursday but has been ordered by doctors to halt all baseball activities for ten days.
If Ethier is to start the season on the disabled list that obviously opens the door for someone like Andrew Toles to make the squad. Ethier is 6 for 12 (.500) this spring with one home run and two runs batted in. He’s looked good when he’s played. Unfortunately that hasn’t been much this spring.
If Ethier is unable to go left field could be up for grabs between Andrew Toles, Scott Van Slyke, Trayce Thompson and Franklin Gutierrez. The Dodgers have already unofficially announced that Gutierrez will make the opening day roster as a part time outfielder and right handed bat off the bench. This is not surprising considering they signed him to a guaranteed MLB contract.
Thompson and Van Slyke are both coming off of injury riddled seasons as well. Thompson is recovered from a severe back injury (stress fracture) and Van Slyke was hampered by wrist and back problems. Thompson is now back in camp and playing in games. He’s looked strong early on. Ethier’s injury could also give the Dodgers a little bit of roster flexibility.
Toles is probably the early favorite to win the fifth outfield spot, but he has options and can be sent down to Oklahoma City. Van Slyke is out of options, but should make the club as well providing he is healthy. Thompson is a strong candidate too, but he has options and might not be fully recovered from his back injury. However he has stated that he feels he is 100% healthy. Thompson is hitting .333 (6 for 18) this spring with one home run.
Ethier is in the final year of a five-year contract and is due to earn 17.5 million dollars. He has a vesting option for 2018 and a 2.5 million dollar buyout. The option can vest if Ethier reaches 550 plate appearances in 2017 or 1,100 plate appearances between 2017-2018.