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.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.

Report: Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman initiate Marlins’ staff cuts

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A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.

Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.

The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.

Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:

Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.

Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.