SAN DIEGO -- Don Mattingly expects former Giants closer Brian Wilson to receive a mixed reaction when he returns to AT&T Park on Tuesday night, but there is nothing mixed about Mattingly's reaction to Wilson's contributions out of the Dodgers' bullpen.
"One thing we found out -- when he's in the game, he pitches," Mattingly said approvingly. "He knows what he's doing. He's not in the middle of the plate too often. He makes the ball move both ways. And when he wants to, he's got extra and he can elevate. That whole persona of just chucking balls? He knows what he's doing."
Coming off a second Tommy John elbow reconstruction, Wilson was non-tendered by the Giants last winter. He continued his recovery this season until he was sure he was ready, then signed with the Dodgers on July 30 and debuted Aug. 22.
Since then, he's looked like the eccentric guy who closed out the Giants' 2010 World Series. He's allowed one run in 11 1/3 innings, stranded 10 of 11 inherited baserunners and given Mattingly another setup option for closer Kenley Jansen.
"When we signed him, I didn't know what to expect," Mattingly said. "The first sim game in Philly, he was throwing 86 [mph] or something and I wasn't sure. But the emotion of a game makes a big difference for him."
Mattingly said he expects Wilson to receive a reception in San Francisco similar to that of Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego.
"I'm sure with any personality that goes to a rival, it's not going to be a warm and fuzzy reaction," he said. "I don't understand that, though. They could have signed him. They let him go. It's not like he decided to leave. It'll probably be half and half. A lot of people appreciated what he was able to accomplish and there will be a mix of traitor talk."
Ethier could start on Tuesday
SAN DIEGO -- Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who had been out since Sept. 13 with a turned left ankle, pinch-hit in Sunday's 1-0 win over the Padres and manager Don Mattingly said he could return to the starting lineup as soon as Tuesday night.
Ethier, who struck out in the eighth inning in his return to action, is currently the most seriously injured of the lineup nucleus. He, Hanley Ramirez (back nerve), Adrian Gonzalez (quad), Carl Crawford (lower back) and Yasiel Puig (hip) have needed rest recently for ailments.
Ethier has been able to hit with his left ankle tightly wrapped, but said he expects running to be the final hurdle. He has been easing into it on a treadmill the past three days.
Mattingly not tipping hand on postseason roster
SAN DIEGO -- Don Mattingly remains reluctant to talk about the tough cuts he'll be making for the postseason roster, but the Dodgers' manager said it will have "four starters for sure" and hinted at a total of 11 pitchers.
The Dodgers currently are traveling with 17 pitchers, including Chris Capuano, whose strained groin essentially puts him on the taxi squad for the first playoff series. It also includes fifth starter Edinson Volquez, emergency starter Stephen Fife and September callups Peter Moylan and Onelki Garcia.
Without naming names, Mattingly said management's discussions include whether there's a need for a long reliever, which the Dodgers really haven't had all season.
"You hope you don't need one," he said. "But look at Cincinnati last year. [Reds ace Johnny] Cueto pulls a groin in the first inning. Now what do you do? It's nice to have that. Is your fifth guy [Volquez] a bullpen [reliever] or is he a long man? You don't know which scenario pops up. You can't be ready for all of them."
The resurrection of former All-Star closers Brian Wilson and Carlos Marmol could make it difficult for the Dodgers to also keep Brandon League on the postseason roster, even though he opened the season as the club's closer with a fresh $22.5 million contract.
Mattingly will have a similar dilemma if all four outfielders -- Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig -- are healthy at the same time, although they rarely are.
"There will be guys who probably won't be happy," Mattingly conceded. "Now is not the time to make friends. Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to win and we'll do what's best for the entire 25. Everybody knows what's at stake. I hope it's about the team."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.