Ethier’s swing fi­nally in shape

He says it wasn’t un­til the last few weeks that his right hand fi­nally healed, but he won’t blame his hit­ting slump on that.

Los Angeles Times - - Baseball - Jim Peltz re­port­ing from phoenix james.peltz@latimes.com

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 midMay.

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 pinkieMay 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 one­handed 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.”

Short hops

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.

OUT OF REACH:

Matt York

Dodgers out­fielder Reed John­son can’t come up with a ball hit by the Di­a­mond­backs’ Cole Gille­spie for a three-run homer in the sixth in­ning of Ari­zona’s 5-2 win Satur­day.

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