- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class A Inland Empire on Tuesday night at Lake Elsinore, the same night reliever Jeff Weaver will start for the 66ers on his own rehab assignment. But right-hander Vicente Padilla is likely to be shelved by a nerve injury through May.
Ramirez, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 23 with a right calf strain, is expected to play two or three games. He is eligible to be activated on Saturday.
Position players generally go to Triple-A for rehab assignments because the quality of pitching there is close to major league caliber. But the Dodgers' Albuquerque affiliate is playing at Memphis this week, and Ramirez, who was given the choice, decided a two-hour drive was preferable to a three-hour flight.
"I'm not really that concerned,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before Sunday's game with Pittsburgh. "Manny hasn't been away that long, and he has been taking batting practice. This whole season, even though it was a short sampling so far, his approach has been different than it was last year when he went away [to serve a league-imposed suspension for a drug-policy violation] and came back. I don't think it will take that much for him to be ready.''
Ramirez was off to an outstanding start before getting injured on April 22 at Cincinnati. He is hitting .415 with two homers, 12 RBIs and a .500 on-base percentage.
Torre also revealed that Opening Day starter Padilla isn't expected to return from the 15-day DL any time soon. Padilla is suffering from a nerve injury at the top of his right forearm, and although he had struggled to a 7.06 ERA in four starts before getting hurt, the Dodgers' rotation has been left in disarray by his absence.
"He is feeling better,'' Torre said. "But I don't see him helping us this month ... just from the fact that when he is ready to pitch, I don't want to say he is starting all over again, but he will have a lot of work to do to get back on a mound at this level.''
The Dodgers will decide Monday whether to place injured shortstop Rafael Furcal on the 15-day disabled list, a move that seems likely if it is determined that he won't be ready to play by Tuesday night. Furcal hasn't played since Tuesday, when he strained his left hamstring running out a ground ball.
"He will come in and do a little work [on Monday],'' Torre said. "He is feeling better. He has taken ground balls hit right at him, but he hasn't really been tested. I had a talk with him and told him what we might have to do. To play shortstop and do all the athletic things he has to do, he has to be 100 percent.''
Because he hasn't played in almost a week, Furcal would be eligible to return in time for a three-game series at San Diego starting on May 14.
Torre said that if Furcal is shelved, Chin-lung Hu probably will be recalled from Albuquerque. Hu entered play Sunday hitting just .213, but he is on the 40-man roster, making him the logical choice. Ivan De Jesus also is on the roster and has better offensive numbers, but he primarily has been playing second base for the Isotopes while Hu has played almost exclusively at shortstop, and Hu has big league experience where De Jesus doesn't.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Dodgers Manny Ramirez to begin rehab with Class A Inland Empire