- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Manny Ramirez from the 15-day disabled list in time for Saturday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds after the left fielder missed 33 games because a right-calf strain. The Dodgers considered delaying Ramirez's activation until Sunday and perhaps even Tuesday, but Ramirez told the team's medical staff he felt fine after a three-game rehabilitation assignment with advanced Single-A Inland Empire.
Ramirez was in the starting lineup against the Reds, batting third.
"He told us," said Stan Conte, the Dodgers' director of medical services. "When he came back from Arizona [on Monday], I was able to get him out here and really run him hard, at a high intensity. We timed him on the bases and made him run hard, and he had no problems there, no soreness. He was able to play at San Bernardino the next day. We would have liked to have him on base a little bit more, but he tested it for three games with no soreness."
Ramirez went 1 for 6 with four strikeouts on his rehab.
To clear a roster spot, the Dodgers designated veteran infielder Juan Castro for assignment. If Castro clears waivers, he could rejoin the club for the September roster expansion, but with the Triple-A regular season scheduled to end on Sept. 6, it is doubtful the Dodgers would ask him to go back to Albuquerque in the interim.
Ramirez was on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf he suffered July 16 at St. Louis, an injury that occurred only one day after he was activated from his previous DL stint because of a strained right hamstring.
"I asked him if he wanted to take today off and play tomorrow," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He said he was ready to go now. The only way for us to find out is to send him out there and see what we see."
Torre said Ramirez won't play Sunday against the Reds, a day game.
Ramirez entered Saturday having played in only one game and one inning of a second game since suffering that hamstring injury June 29. That is a total of four plate appearances against major league pitching, during which he flied out three times and walked once.
"Am I expecting him to be sharp?" Torre said. "Not necessarily. But he knows how to hit. If he doesn't necessarily try to pull the ball, I think that will help him just sort of get it back. We'll see."
With veteran Scott Podsednik having been acquired from the Kansas City Royals during Ramirez's DL stint, the Dodgers now have four everyday outfielders, including center fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier. Torre said the alignment would be determined on a day-to-day basis, with each player's history against that day's opposing starting pitcher weighing heavily in the decision.
"Right now, we're trying to win as many games as we can," Torre said. "It's going to be my decision on how we do it or try to do it."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.