LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers may consider bringing up Triple-A shortstop Chin-lung Hu or finding another natural shortstop if Rafael Furcal is placed on the disabled list Tuesday, manager Joe Torre said on Sunday.

Furcal's progress healing a strained left hamstring stalled on Saturday after it had steadily improved each day since he was hurt trying to beat out a double play Tuesday against the Mets. Torre talked with Furcal, who has battled injuries in the past, on Sunday morning.

"If we have to disable you, we'll disable you," Torre said he told Furcal. "The most important thing for him to understand, first of all, is he doesn't have to prove to anybody he wants to play."

Hu is batting .213 with four RBIs in 16 games with the Isotopes. He's played in the big leagues each of the last three seasons.

Manny nears return; Padilla out through May

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers expect star slugger Manny Ramirez to return shortly, but they will be without their Opening Day pitcher for at least another month.

Vicente Padilla's right-elbow soreness should keep him out until at least the end of May, manager Joe Torre said Sunday.

"He's better, he's feeling better, but not having thrown for a while, I don't see him helping us this month," Torre said. "That's not anything, I think, unusual."

Padilla went on the disabled list April 25, three days after taking a no-decision in an 8-5 loss to the Reds. Padilla is 1-1 with a 7.06 ERA in four starts.

Ramirez is eligible to return from the disabled list Saturday. Bothered by a right-calf strain, Ramirez is scheduled to join Jeff Weaver in a rehab appearance for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers on Tuesday in San Bernardino.

The Dodgers considered trying to get Ramirez some at-bats at Triple-A to better prepare him for big league pitching, but the Albuquerque Isotopes are on the road in Memphis mid-week. That's too far, and too much of a circus, for Ramirez, Torre felt, because he has been able to take batting practice while he's healed.

"I'm not really concerned, Manny hasn't been away that long," Torre said.

Torre said Weaver, out with a right-lower-back strain, felt fine Sunday after throwing three innings of a simulated game at Dodger Stadium the day before. Weaver is scheduled to throw three innings in a start for San Bernardino Tuesday to prepare for a Friday return to the Dodgers' bullpen.

Torre calls on Ely to make Thursday's start

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Joe Torre said the Dodgers will give John Ely his second career Major League start on Thursday against the Brewers.

Torre hadn't announced a starter beyond Tuesday (Clayton Kershaw) and Wednesday (Chad Billingsley) before Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Pirates at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers were choosing among Charlie Haeger, Carlos Monasterios and Triple-A pitchers.

"I think in Ely's case, if he continues to be here, I think you have to give him the ball and let him start," Torre said before Sunday's game.

Ely (0-1, 7.50 ERA) allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in six innings Wednesday in a 7-1 loss to the Mets. The 23-year-old right-hander started the year in Triple-A Albuquerque and has not yet pitched at Dodger Stadium.

Sherrill receives warning from MLB

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers reliever George Sherrill received a warning letter from MLB vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson for taking too long to warm up on April 14 at Dodger Stadium against the D-backs.

Sherrill taped the letter, which was sent to him at Dodger Stadium when the Dodgers were on the road in Cincinnati, to his locker.

"With more strikes called, the game is faster," read Sherrill's hand-written note on the typed letter.

The letter, a warning that came without a fine, cited Sherrill for taking 45 seconds too long to throw his eight warm-up pitches.

"First time I got something like that," Sherrill said. "It's my seventh year in the big leagues, and I've never gotten one before. The thing is, you sit there and watch a game, and guys are throwing strikes on top of strikes, and [the umpires] are not calling them. That's why games are taking so long, not because a guy has a little extra time to warm up."

Manager Joe Torre, who sits on a committee that deals with on-field issues, said the prudence of policing warm-up time is being discussed.

"Just have to find a better system to get that part of it worked out," Torre said. "I've had calls from umpires to say, 'Hey, we're calling you, we're giving you a heads up, this guy, this guy and this guy are dragging their feet,' so to speak."

James Loney also received some disciplinary action from the league, as he was fined $200 for arguing balls and strikes Tuesday during a doubleheader against the Mets. Loney, who tossed a batting glove and was ejected after being called out on strikes, had not been tossed from a game since he was in Double-A.