Ethier Struggling Without Manny's Support

Andre Ethier was doing just fine when he batted cleanup and was protecting Manny Ramirez and owned a season-high batting average of .327. But since Ramirez's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy, Ethier's production has plummeted.

"He'll fight through it," manager Joe Torre said. "Right now it looks like he's feeling for it. It certainly isn't for a lack of work. He's working at it.

"It's like everybody else, if you haven't been doing it, then you're not as sure about it. He'll get a couple of hits, and hopefully it will fall right back into place for him."

In the 11 games since Ramirez left, Ethier has batted .128 with 12 strikeouts. His average has dipped to .253, and he has six home runs and 30 RBIs.

Ethier is batting just .188 in May. He's struck out 30 times in 154 at-bats, which is the third most on the team.

Even with Ramirez gone, Ethier is still batting cleanup. He was 0-for-2 Wednesday and grounded into a double play in the first inning.

--CF Matt Kemp is a big Lakers fan and was thrilled when he noticed the Dodgers' day off Thursday coincided with Game 2 between the Lakers and Denver Nuggets. He was expected to attend that game as well as Game 3 in Denver since the Dodgers are playing the Rockies on Saturday.

--LHP Randy Wolf just started playing golf in the offseason and participated in his first golf tournament, the Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Tournament, on Thursday. He said he hoped he wasn't going to embarrass himself.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Dodgers (Andre Ethier, James Loney, Orlando Hudson and Matt Kemp) who are on pace to drive in at least 100 runs this season. Since moving to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958, the Dodgers have never had as many as three players drive in 100 or more runs in a season. The last time it happened in franchise history was in 1955, when Duke Snider (136), Roy Campanella (107) and Gil Hodges (102) each drove in more than 100 runs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think in Manny's case, it made him feel better just to get in front of the team. I think it was kind of a big load off his shoulders just to greet the team again. He was a guy concerned about his team and his teammates. I know he feels bad. It was just nice to see him again, and I think it was nice for him to see us." -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake after Manny Ramirez met with the team for the first time on Friday since his 50-game suspension.

--LHP Eric Stults was scratched from Wednesday's start with a sprained thumb on his pitching hand, but he's expected to start Monday in Coors Field. He had his thumb and wrist in a brace Wednesday.

--RHP Hiroki Kuroda (sprained left oblique) will make his first rehabilitation start with high Class A Inland Empire on Friday. Kuroda is expected to make two or three rehab starts before he returns to the Dodgers. He hasn't pitched since his start on opening day.

--RHP Jason Schmidt (shoulder) could be closer to a return with the Dodgers, although he hasn't pitched for them since June 2007. He is scheduled for a rehab start at Class AAA Albuquerque on Saturday.

2B Orlando Hudson (bruised left shoulder) left the May 19 game. He was back in the lineup May 20.

LHP Eric Stults (sprained left thumb) was injured May 15, and he missed his May 20 start. He's expected to start May 25.

LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 30. He resumed baseball activities in mid-May, but there was no timetable for his return.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list April 11. He threw a bullpen session May 12 and a simulated game May 18. He will make the first of at least two rehab starts May 22 for Class A Inland Empire.

RHP Jason Schmidt (right shoulder surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. He was still pitching in extended spring training as of early May. He made the first of two rehab starts for Class A Inland Empire on May 12. He will start for Class AAA Albuquerque on May 24.

RHP Claudio Vargas (right elbow tendinitis) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to April 6. He might return as soon as he's eligible.

INF Doug Mientkiewicz (dislocated right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 30. He had surgery April 20, and he is unlikely to return before September.

   LHP Randy Wolf
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   LHP Eric Stults
   LHP Eric Milton
   RHP Jonathan Broxton (closer)
   RHP Cory Wade
   RHP Guillermo Mota
   LHP Will Ohman
   RHP Ronald Belisario
   RHP Ramon Troncoso
   LHP Brent Leach
   RHP Jeff Weaver

   Russell Martin
   Brad Ausmus

   1B James Loney
   2B Orlando Hudson
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Juan Castro
   INF Mark Loretta

   LF Juan Pierre
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Xavier Paul