PHOENIX -- When 41-year-old backup catcher Brad Ausmus needed back surgery in April, Dodgers manager Joe Torre figured that would probably be the end of the line for the veteran's playing career.
Ausmus never accepted that, and his intense rehabilitation has him "in the market for a [Minor League] rehab after the [All-Star] break," according to Torre.
Ausmus had a portion of a disk break off and press against a nerve, creating numbness and weakness in his foot. The numbness is gone and the weakness has diminished to where Ausmus is now doing all baseball functions, including the last one -- running the bases.
"It's pretty good," said Torre. "I had no anticipation that would be the case."
Right hamstring sends Manny to 15-day DL
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers placed outfielder Manny Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list Saturday for the second time this season, this stint for an irritated right hamstring.
Outfielder Xavier Paul was recalled to replace Ramirez and was in the starting lineup in left field against the D-backs.
Manager Joe Torre said that with the upcoming All-Star break, Ramirez will be eligible to return July 15 when play resumes in St. Louis, missing only 11 games. Torre said Ramirez "expressed interest" in a Minor League rehab stint before he returns.
"To me, there's no reason to gamble," Torre said. "We already had lost him for six games [estimating a Wednesday return]. For the tradeoff of having him as a pinch-hitter, I thought this was safer. When the second half starts, we won't have time to nurse him."
Ramirez, 38 years old and in the final season of a two-year contract, was injured in the first inning of Tuesday night's game in San Francisco while running the bases. He had an MRI on Thursday that showed inflammation in the lower part of his right hamstring. Earlier this year, Ramirez was disabled with a strained right calf.
Ramirez goes down just when his bat was heating up. The slugger was hitting .460 (23-for-50) with three homers and 11 RBIs over his past 15 games. He led the club in June with a .598 slugging percentage and .366 batting average. On the season, Ramirez is hitting .322 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 59 games.
This is the third callup for Paul, who was hitting .348 at Triple-A Albuquerque, having replaced Ramirez in April and Andre Ethier in May when he broke his finger. Torre said Paul would likely share time in left with Reed Johnson.
"We hope he gives us what he gave us last time, a little excitement," said Torre.
Troncoso optioned to work on mechanics
PHOENIX -- Reliever Ramon Troncoso was sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque before Saturday's game with the D-backs. Rookie Travis Schlichting was called up from Albuquerque to replace him.
Troncoso has struggled for much of this season. He has a 5.15 ERA while allowing six home runs in 36 2/3 innings, compared to just three for all of last year.
Tronscoso's prior two appearances have been scoreless, including two perfect innings Friday night. The move caught Troncoso by surprise, but he handled it like a pro.
"I know it's going to make me be better," Troncoso said. "Everybody wants to be here. I'll go there and throw more innings."
Although Hiroki Kuroda's 1 2/3-inning start Friday night required Dodgers manager Joe Torre to burn through his bullpen -- and Troncoso was the only middle reliever that had options remaining -- Torre said the club had been considering the move for the past 10 days to give Troncoso a chance to "get organized."
"We told him this wasn't punishment, but to work on his mechanics and release point so he gets consistency," the skipper said. "We needed to know when we call his number, what are we getting?
"His role is coming out and minimizing damage. He's allowed six home runs. That's a lot. He can't lose sight that he's a sinkerball pitcher. He can't go up and in."
One goal is for Troncoso to pitch more innings, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said starting Troncoso would be considered. This is Schlichting's third callup, having taken the place of Scott Elbert and Chad Billingsley earlier in the year.
Monasterios throws three scoreless frames
PHOENIX -- Disabled Dodgers pitcher Carlos Monasterios made his second rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday night, throwing three scoreless innings.
Monasterios, on the disabled list with a blood blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, allowed two hits with one strikeout. He threw 35 pitches, 22 strikes.
The Rule 5 rookie is eligible to be activated Sunday, but because he just pitched, he would not be useful to the Dodgers for a few days. When he returns, it's likely to be as a reliever, his role when the season started.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.