ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers have all but announced that James McDonald will be promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque to start Monday night's game against the Giants.

"We haven't committed to that," manager Joe Torre said. "He's scheduled to start tomorrow, but we made the call to hold off. That's likely what we'll do."

McDonald would be getting a second shot at the fifth starter spot. The job was his to lose coming out of Spring Training in 2009, and he lost it. He was in the running this spring, but lost the competition to Charlie Haeger and spent the first half of the season getting more seasoning with the Isotopes. In addition to Haeger, the Dodgers have used Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Monasterios and John Ely in the fifth starter slot. They are 13-15 in games started by the group after going 30-16 in games starter by fifth starters last year.

Dodgers activate Manny from disabled list

ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers activated outfielder Manny Ramirez for Thursday night's game against the Cardinals and replaced him on the 15-day disabled list with outfielder Reed Johnson, with chronic lower back issues.

The 33-year-old Johnson has a history of back problems, having missed three months in 2007 with a herniated disk and spent stints on the disabled list in '08 and '09 with back spasms.

Ramirez was disabled with a strained right hamstring suffered running the bases in San Francisco.

He returned to the cleanup spot and went 0-for-3 with three flyouts and made an error in left field in the fourth inning, allowing Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to advance to second base on a single. Molina then scored on Aaron Miles' single.

Johnson missed the last three games before the All-Star break and will be eligible to return July 24.

Manager Joe Torre said Johnson's back had improved.

"We're already six or seven days into this thing and he'll be eligible a week from Saturday and by then should be OK," Torre said. "It's getting better, but he still has a few spots where he feels it."

Johnson has been the most frequently used defensive replacement for Ramirez. Torre said he will use both Xavier Paul and Garret Anderson instead.

As for Ramirez, Torre said he was unconcerned with the outfielder's stats during a Minor League rehab assignment at Class A Inland Empire -- 0-for-9 with five strikeouts.

"He hasn't done a lot, but nothing bothered him," Torre said.

Heat greets Dodgers in muggy St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Joe Torre looked at the 95-degree reading on the Busch Stadium thermometer.

"It's tough to breathe," said the Dodgers manager, who played six years across the street on AstroTurf at the old Busch Stadium. "I didn't realize that when I was 29 playing here."

Nonetheless -- with humidity added in for a heat index of 105 and a heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service -- Torre put his team through a full workout on Thursday hours before it resumed play for the second half with the opener of a four-game series with the Cardinals.

"You don't want them coming on the field at 5:30 after being off three days," said Torre. "It would be the fifth inning before they realize something's going on. It's just to shake out the cobwebs."

The workout was mandatory for everybody except the four Dodgers All-Stars -- Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Rafael Furcal -- and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Broxton and Kuo showed up anyway.

"We did infield and outfield, then PFP [pitchers fielding practice], which was hysterical," said Torre. "Kuo was the first guy on the mound. I think he put himself there. He made the throw and got a round of applause. That was hysterical."

Kuo was the only National League pitcher to allow a run, which was unearned because of his errant throw to first base.

Torre said he would consider giving catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Manny Ramirez Sunday off.