Manny Ramirez returning soon
LOS ANGELES -- There is a chance, albeit a remote one, that Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez will be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time for Saturday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds if his final minor league rehabilitation game Friday night at high Single-A Inland Empire goes well.
However, Dodgers manager Joe Torre seemed to suggest a more likely target for Ramirez's activation would be Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
"We have to make a roster move, and that move isn't going to be easy to make," Torre said. "The fact we're playing Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, what we have usually done in the past is that Manny plays the night game and not the day game. So we will just have to look at it."
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Given that Ramirez probably would play only one of those two games with the Reds, it might make more sense to hold off on activating him until the start of the trip.
The current makeup of the Dodgers' roster means that unless club officials decide to cut back to 11 pitchers -- something the Dodgers haven't done all year -- someone will have to be designated for assignment because the team doesn't have a backup player who has minor league options left.
With utility men Ronnie Belliard and Juan Castro the only backup infielders, that could mean newly promoted outfielder Jay Gibbons will be the odd man out. But before Gibbons can be outrighted to the minors, he would have to clear waivers, and that might be tough given that Gibbons has a cheap contract, bats left-handed and entered Friday hitting .375 with a home run -- including 2-for-4 as a pinch hitter -- in eight games since having his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 8.
Meanwhile, Torre said he wasn't sure how the outfield will shake up when Ramirez returns. Since Ramirez suffered a strained right calf July 17, the Dodgers have acquired Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals, and he began Friday hitting .302 with a .368 on-base percentage since that trade.
Torre talked about some kind of an outfield rotation, which seems logical given Ramirez probably won't play day games after night games. Podsednik also could occasionally play center in place of Matt Kemp, especially if Kemp continues to struggle.
"You would like Matt to produce," Torre said. "I thought he was good [Thursday] night," when Kemp went 0-for-4 but hit two balls hard. "Podsednik, I love the energy he gives us. But until Manny gets back and we know he's back, I can't make a plan."
Ramirez was scheduled to play at least six innings in left field for Inland Empire on Friday night against Lake Elsinore. Torre said he spoke with Ramirez earlier in the day and emphasized the importance of making sure the calf will hold up to the rigors of left field.
Weaver ready for rehab assignment
Reliever Jeff Weaver, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 3 because of left-knee tendinitis, is ready to begin a minor league rehab stint.
But with rookie Carlos Monasterios starting Friday night's game in place of the injured Vicente Padilla, and with Monasterios having not thrown more than 27 pitches in any appearance since his most recent start on July 30, Torre wanted to hold Weaver in reserve in case a short outing by Monasterios on Friday results in a depleted bullpen Saturday.
In that case, Weaver probably would skip his rehab and be activated immediately.
"[But] I would rather have him go pitch somewhere," Torre said.
With Padilla (bulging disc in neck) eligible to return Aug. 31 and the Dodgers off Monday, Torre appears determined to limit the number of starts the veteran right-hander will miss to two. Torre said Ted Lilly, who fired a two-hit shutout at the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night, will start in Milwaukee on Tuesday on his normal rest.
That probably means Hiroki Kuroda will start Wednesday on six days' rest, followed by Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw on normal rest. Monasterios then would need to make just one more start in place of Padilla on Aug. 28 at Colorado.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.