Andre Ethier not expected to play center field at start of NLCS

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UPDATE: While the Dodgers were hopeful that Andre Ethier would be able to start in center field when the NLCS begins, CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler reports that he’s not expected to be ready by then. However, the good news is that his ankle has improved enough where he likely won’t need a pinch-runner if he gets on base.

10:47 a.m. ET: Similar to the Cardinals waiting on Allen Craig’s health status, the Dodgers are hoping to have Andre Ethier fully available for the NLCS.

Ethier hasn’t been in the starting lineup since September 13, when he aggravated a leg injury, and went 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter in the NLDS. However, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com Ethier “was running down fly balls in the gap Wednesday as the Dodgers worked out at Dodger Stadium” and might start in center field versus the Cardinals.

Even when fully healthy Ethier is very stretched defensively in center field, so it’s hard to imagine him covering much ground coming off a lengthy absence for a leg injury, but then again he simply needs to be better than Skip Schumaker to provide an upgrade for the Dodgers.

Report: Nationals sign reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal

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Both a Kinsler and a Kintzler made headlines at the Winter Meetings. After the Angels acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Nationals have inked reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year contract, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the deal is worth $10 million and includes a third-year option worth $6 million.

Kintzler, 33, spent the latter half of his 2017 campaign with the Nationals after the Twins traded him. Between both clubs, he put up an aggregate 3.03 ERA with 29 saves and a 39/16 K/BB ratio in 71 1/3 innings.

Sean Doolittle will handle save situations for the Nationals. Kintzler and Ryan Madson will bridge the gap to him in the seventh and eighth innings.