Vicente Padilla, Juan Uribe near return

Updated: June 1, 2011, 9:03 PM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Slowly but surely, the injury-riddled Los Angeles Dodgers are getting their players back from the disabled list.

Barring a setback, reliever Vicente Padilla is expected to be activated before Friday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds after two strong appearances for advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga on a rehabilitation assignment earlier this week. Padilla has been on the 15-day DL since May 19 with irritation in his right radial nerve.

Meanwhile, infielder Juan Uribe, who was put on the DL May 22 mostly because the team already was short-handed and couldn't afford to go day to day with him, is scheduled to begin a two- to three-game rehab assignment on Thursday, also with Rancho Cucamonga. He could be activated as early as Sunday in Cincinnati, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Monday night's opener of a three-game series in Philadelphia is a more realistic target.

Uribe has a left hip-flexor strain.

Mattingly said he wasn't sure whether Padilla will take over the closer's role when he returns, but the fact he pitched two innings for the Quakes on Tuesday night is an indication the club might want flexibility in how Padilla is used.

"We haven't really talked about it too much with him," Mattingly said. "Sometimes, that save for me may come in the seventh inning, and we may need him in (an earlier) spot."

When Uribe returns, the Dodgers figure to finally have their projected starting infield together on the field for the first time since shortstop Rafael Furcal broke his thumb on April 11 at San Francisco. Furcal missed six weeks, then was activated May 22, before he had gotten nearly as many at-bats on his rehab assignment as club officials had hoped because Uribe was going on the DL.

Outfielder Marcus Thames, who has been on the DL since May 3 with a right-quad strain and probably will be the next player activated after Uribe, is 1-for-9 through the first three games of his rehab with Triple-A Albuquerque, the lone hit a home run. He is expected to remain there a few more days, but could be activated sometime on the Dodgers' upcoming 10-game trip to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Colorado.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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