LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andre Ethier was removed from the Los Angeles Dodgers starting lineup on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium because of an inflamed left elbow, putting his 29-game hitting streak on hold.
Moreover, Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton won’t pitch until after an MRI exam of his aching right elbow.
Ethier is said to having felt discomfort Tuesday night, when he stretched his streak to 29 games, two shy of the franchise record that Willie Davis set in 1969. Wednesday’s series finale was the first time this season Ethier wasn’t in the starting lineup.
“Last night after the game, he felt like he had some stuff going on with his elbow,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He said something about a slide in St. Louis (about 2½ weeks ago), so it’s been a while. So I checked with him this morning to make sure he was OK. I explained to him that I didn’t want him to go out there if he didn’t feel like he could. But he hasn’t really been getting any treatment on it or anything like that.”
With Broxton sidelined, Vicente Padilla will be the team’s first-choice closer for now.
Mattingly said he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt were watching tape of Broxton’s consecutive four-pitch walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena during Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss when the reliever and trainer Stan Conte informed the manager of the elbow issue.
“Honey was kind of showing me how the ball was coming out of his hand, and Honey felt like something was wrong,” Mattingly said. “He said it’s not the guy that he’s known the whole time he’s been here. Then Stan comes in and says: ‘You don’t need to look at tape anymore.’
“To go from 96 (mph) two days ago throwing nine pitches, then yesterday when he’s at 90, it tells you something’s going on,” Mattingly added. “Brox came in today and he said he had pain. I told him: ‘It’s honorable that you want to pitch like this and you’re willing to go out there.’ But at the end, it doesn’t do him any good. It’s not fair to him and it’s really not fair to everybody else, either. And we don’t really know what kind of timeframe we’re looking at.”
Broxton, who got the save in last year’s All-Star game, is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in 14 appearances — converting seven of eight save chances. The six-year veteran, who had a career-high 36 saves in 2009 and dropped to 22 last year, has never been on the disabled list since making his big league debut on July 29, 2005.
Ethier extended his streak to 29 games on Tuesday night during a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, a game where Kerry Wood won his first game for the Cubs since 2008.
In the fourth, Ethier kept the streak going when he lined Ryan Dempster’s 1-2 splitter just beyond the leaping attempt of rookie second baseman Darwin Barney and into right field with one out for the Dodgers’ first hit.
One pitch earlier, Ethier took a big cut and his bat went flying into the first row of seats behind the first base dugout, bouncing three rows back. Instead of asking the fan who grabbed the bat to return it, Ethier got a new C-271 black ash Louisville Slugger.
“He’s one of the premiere players in the game, and he’s only getting better,” Dodgers second baseman Aaron Miles said. “His confidence level is as high as it can be. He knows all the pitchers in the league well now, so he’s got knowledge of them. So he’s got that library of knowledge to fall back on, and how guys are going to try to attack him.”
Ethier’s streak is the longest since Davis’ franchise-record 31-game stretch. A hit in his next game would make Ethier the 44th major leaguer in the modern era (since 1900) with a streak of at least 30.