Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier’s Opening Day availability is in doubt after suffering a herniated disk in his lower back, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
Ethier, who missed all but 16 games last season due to a fractured tibia that he suffered in spring training on a foul tip, received an epidural following an MRI on Monday that showed the injury. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters that Ethier will not do any baseball activities for a week to 10 days and that said it will be “tough” for Ethier to be ready to take the field on April 3.
Up until last year, the 34-year-old Ethier had played at least 126 games for the Dodgers from 2006-15.
His best season was in 2009 when he hit .272/.361/.508, smacked 31 home runs and had 106 RBIs in 160 games while finishing sixth in the NL MVP voting and earning a Silver Slugger award.
Since that year, his numbers have gone down and his role in the lineup has decreased after missing an average of 22.5 games despite receiving a five-year, $85 million contract extension in 2012.
Ethier is in the final year of his contract and is slated to make $17.5 million. Ethier has a club option for 2018, but there is a $2.5 million buyout if the club doesn't vest and it chooses not to exercise it.
Ethier’s latest setback opens up a slot in the Dodgers’ crowded outfield, which includes Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles, Franklin Gutierrez, Trayce Thompson and Enrique Hernandez. Early indications point to the 24-year-old Toles as the man to benefit in Ethier’s absence.