Ethier takes batting practice for first time

Dodgers outfielder ramps up rehab in hopes of returning this season

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier took batting practice at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since fracturing his tibia in Spring Training, taking another step in a long rehab process that could be running out of time.

Ethier was well into the baseball-activities phase of his rehab earlier this month and preparing for an early August return, but a scan of his fractured tibia revealed that the injury had still not fully healed. The Dodgers pushed his return date back, but are now ramping him up with the hope he can return this season.

"I've basically done two offseasons and Spring Trainings in a matter of seven months here," Ethier said. "Just doing my buildup to Spring Training, Spring Training schedule, and then I've already done that again here. This last eight weeks, I've done that whole thing again that we did in January, February and March."

Ethier's rehab is dictated by his pain tolerance and he expects to feel residual pain in the leg over the next year or two. He sees progress in that area, because when the fracture used to flare up, he'd feel the pain for at least a day. Now, the pain lasts for just minutes.

The rehab work has come mostly at the team's Camelback Ranch facility in Arizona, which Ethier said in retrospect that he should have seen as a sign that his rehab could take a while. That location carries the added benefit of being near Ethier's home in his native state and allowing him to see his family more than any past season.

"I have had an unfair advantage of, in the beginning of this, they just told me to stay home," Ethier said. "I've been home and had a chance to do some things for the first time. From watching my youngest one graduate from preschool, which I would never normally do, taking my kids to certain things. It wasn't something where I'm glad I'm in that situation, but I'm going to make the most of it."

At this point, Ethier is still running at 50 percent and moving laterally, but not rounding the bases yet. Manager Dave Roberts said there is no timetable for Ethier's return, but the team is hopeful it will come this season.

"There comes a point where you run out of time, so it's pushing as much as we can and we're doing that," Ethier said.

Injury notes

Yasiel Puig was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game since exiting Thursday's game with hamstring tightness, but Roberts said he could be used in Tuesday's game. Puig also ran the bases Tuesday and reported that he felt better than when he ran Sunday.

"He's available, but not to the point where I want him in there," Roberts said.

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.