The Dodgers have told Andre Ethier to be ready to pinch-hit during the first round of the playoffs, and he acknowledged Tuesday that might be all he can do.
"They just said, 'You have to beat a throw from the outfield,' " Ethier said during a team workout at Dodger Stadium. "After I get on first base, we'll worry about what happens then."
With Matt Kemp out for the season and Ethier questionable, the Dodgers plan to start Skip Schumaker in center field when they open the National League division series on Thursday in Atlanta.
In addition to Schumaker, the Dodgers worked out Dee Gordon, Scott Van Slyke and Jerry Hairston Jr. in center field on Tuesday. Neither Gordon nor Van Slyke has played a major league game in center field.
Ethier, hampered by persistent discomfort above his left ankle, said he would be pleasantly surprised if he could play center when the series returns to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Sunday.
"Who knows, maybe we wake up Saturday or Sunday and it feels good enough to run full-bore," he said.
The Dodgers are not required to announce their playoff roster until Thursday morning. They have not committed to include Ethier as a pinch-hitter — they would need a pinch-runner for him, most likely Gordon — and they first want to evaluate him during Wednesday's workout in Atlanta. Ethier did not run on the field during Tuesday's workout.
Van Slyke last played center field two years ago, for two games at double-A Chattanooga. Gordon, a shortstop, has not played center field in the major or minor leagues, although some talent evaluators believe that will end up as his best position.
Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford could play there, but the Dodgers plan to start Puig in right field and Crawford in left.
The Dodgers have a premium defensive center fielder in their organization in Tony Gwynn Jr., who could serve as a defensive replacement in the playoffs, but Manager Don Mattingly said the team had not discussed whether to call up Gwynn.
Schumaker started the final three games of the 2011 World Series in center field for the St. Louis Cardinals. He started 17 games in center field for the Dodgers this season. Ethier started 70, and Kemp started 68.
Although Ethier played well in center in place of the injured Kemp, Mattingly said the Dodgers never planned it that way. He said the Dodgers are more than comfortable starting Schumaker there.
"At the beginning of the year, no one ever thought about Andre playing center," Mattingly said. "Schu was the guy we were going to back up with."
Ethier has had one at-bat since Sept. 13. He said the only cure is rest and, had the injury happened earlier in the season, said the Dodgers probably would have shut him down for three to four weeks.
Does he feel more pressure to return with Kemp out for the season?
"I'd be lying if I said no," Ethier said.
Ethier batted .272 this season, with 12 home runs and a team-high 61 walks. He said jokingly that he has tried everything to heal the injury.
"I'm talking to shamans and rubbing crystals on it," he said.
Twitter: @BillShaikinCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun