Gordon sent down as Hanley nears return
Dodgers hope shortstop improves offense in Minor Leagues
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are close to getting shortstop Hanley Ramirez back from the disabled list, a fact that factored in to the decision to option shortstop Dee Gordon to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday to clear a roster spot to activate utility man Jerry Hairston off the 15-day DL.
The Dodgers started Nick Punto at shortstop on Monday night at Dodger Stadium against the Angels. Meanwhile, Ramirez has begun running the bases, the final hurdle before he goes out on a rehab assignment for his hamstring pull.
By optioning Gordon, the Dodgers will use Punto and Luis Cruz at shortstop until Ramirez returns. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez could play in Minor League games by the end of the week.
"We do feel like Hanley is fairly close," Mattingly said. "He's close enough."
Gordon has options remaining, but Cruz does not, and he will have another chance to prove he's better than his .096 average. Mattingly is wary of wearing Punto down early in the season, so Cruz will spell him on occasion.
"I'm trying to basically still believe that Luis can do some things," Mattingly said. "Punto is kind of the guy that's getting two out of three [games] at short right now, and I don't know if that's the best for Dee continuing to develop."
Gordon has hit only .175 since being recalled after Ramirez was injured on May 3.
Gordon's offense has regressed since he debuted in 2011, in part because he was rushed to the Major Leagues, and in part because he missed two months last year with thumb surgery.
"I really feel like he made a lot of strides defensively," Mattingly said. "I think the offensive side of it is just going to come."
Hairston was on the DL with a groin strain and his time on the shelf was extended by knee tendinitis. He completed a rehab assignment at Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday night. Hairston started in left field on Monday.
Hand numbness shuts down Beckett's rehab
LOS ANGELES -- Injured pitcher Josh Beckett has been experiencing tingling and numbness in the fingers in his right hand, so the Dodgers have shut down the right-hander's throwing program. He will have an MRI exam on Tuesday.
Beckett strained his left groin covering first base in his start on May 13 against the Nationals, and was placed on the disabled list the following day. At that time, the veteran starter and manager Don Mattingly alluded to other health issues Beckett had been dealing with, but they did not offer specifics.
Before Monday night's game against the Angels, Mattingly revealed Beckett has been dealing with tingling and numbness in his fingers "for a while."
"The groin has went good, and the arm has went bad," Mattingly said.
Beckett is 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA in eight starts.
While Beckett suffered a setback, left-hander Scott Elbert is getting closer to returning to the Dodgers' bullpen.
Elbert, rehabbing from a pair of offseason elbow operations, pitched on consecutive days over the weekend with Double-A Chattanooga for the first time since beginning his Minor League rehab assignment May 10.
Elbert will have two days off before he continues his rehab with Triple-A Albuquerque, likely his final stop before returning to the Major Leagues.
"He's moving this way," Mattingly said.
Kemp returns as Dodgers stack righties
LOS ANGELES -- Outfielder Matt Kemp returned to the Dodgers' lineup on Monday night as manager Don Mattingly stacked the order with right-handed bats to counter Angels left-handed starter C.J. Wilson.
The right-handed-heavy lineup featured Jerry Hairston Jr., activated from the disabled list, and Scott Van Slyke, feeling better from a stiff neck, at the corner-outfield spots in place of left-handers Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Crawford is 3-for-21 (.143) in his career against Wilson.
"Carl has been getting after it pretty good for us," Mattingly said. "Dre is a little bit banged up, but it really didn't have anything to do with that. He was ready to play today."
Mattingly said he especially wanted to get Van Slyke back in the lineup. The rookie entered Monday hitting .261 with three homers, two doubles and six RBIs in 10 games.
"I feel like he's had good at-bats, been a little dangerous," Mattingly said.
Ramon Hernandez started at catcher in place of A.J. Ellis, who has struck out in seven of nine at-bats since he was involved in a collision at home plate with the Cardinals' Jon Jay on Friday. Ellis went 0-for-3 on Sunday, his third start in as many days.
"I felt like I went a day too long yesterday with [Ellis]," Mattingly said.
Luis Cruz, hitting .096, started at third base for the first time since May 17.
• Dodgers right-hander Stephen Fife, on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis, is scheduled to throw a second simulated game in Arizona at the Dodgers' Spring Training facility at Camelback Ranch-Glendale this week.
• Sixteen-year-old Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias debuted with Class A Great Lakes on Sunday, striking out six in three scoreless innings. The Dodgers signed Urias in August as a free agent out of Mexico.