LOS ANGELES -- Mark Ellis is often overlooked on the Dodgers' star-studded roster, but the second baseman has been a central figure in the club's success in the second half.
Ellis is hitting .356 with two home runs, four doubles, one triple, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored in 21 games since the All-Star break, including a 13-game hit streak that was snapped last week. He's coming off a strong series over the weekend against the Rays, going 6-for-9 with four RBIs.
The veteran was a triple shy of the cycle Sunday, his second straight three-hit game, and has been solid with the glove.
"He doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but he quietly does his thing," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's gotten big hits for us. He's a great guy for a manager."
Ellis doesn't get much of the spotlight, and he's fine with that.
"I'm just trying to do something to help the team win," Ellis said. "It's just something I enjoy doing. I just want to be a part of a winning team."
Dodgers remain cautious with Hanley's healing shoulder
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are being cautious with Hanley Ramirez and his sore right shoulder, which could prevent the shortstop from returning to the lineup for at least a few more games.
Ramirez was available to pinch-hit Monday against the Mets, but the Dodgers' medical staff has not cleared him to play a full game. The club wants to be certain Ramirez won't be at risk to aggravate his throwing shoulder, which has bothered him since he chased a popup into the stands at Wrigley Field on Aug. 4.
"He's got to be at a point where he's not going to hurt himself," manager Don Mattingly said on Monday. "We can't have him play one game if it's going to cost us a week. We've got to be smart."
For the second straight day, Ramirez smoked home runs in batting practice, fielded ground balls and threw from shortstop to first base.
The Dodgers are off Thursday and Mattingly said that might influence him to hold Ramirez out of the lineup until Friday, when the Dodgers open a three-game series in Philadelphia.
"I think he's going to be ready to play in a couple days," Mattingly said. "I'm trying to stay away from him as much as I can, as long as I can. If he's healthy, he's going to play."
Ramirez pinch-hit Friday against the Rays, his only action since he came out of last Sunday's game in the bottom of the seventh inning. He's hitting .359 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs in 55 games this season.
Sore ankle continues to give Kemp problems
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is progressing from a sprained left ankle, but still had a slight limp Monday during light agility drills on the field at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp worked out before Monday's game with Stan Conte, vice president, medical services, running in a straight line and stopping. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Kemp was running at 60 to 70 percent, and Kemp appeared to be bothered by the ankle.
"Stan is looking for a little bit more explosion," Mattingly said. "We've still got to get to the point where he's able to stop and turn. That puts pressure on your ankle."
Kemp also took early batting practice for the second straight day, spraying the ball to all fields with hitting coach Mark McGwire feeding the pitching machine.
"All the other stuff looks good," Mattingly said. "He's getting better. There are no worries about anything more than this thing taking a little bit of time. But we feel like we're getting there."
Kemp, on the disabled list for the third time this season, sprained his ankle in an awkward slide at home plate July 21 against the Nationals. He's been limited to 62 games this season, hitting .263 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
• Utility man Nick Punto earned the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Dodgers Heart and Hustle award, which was presented to him by Fernando Valenzuela before Monday's game. Punto is also nominated for the national award, which will be announced Nov. 19.
• Reliever Shawn Tolleson made his first rehab appearance Sunday, a scoreless inning with the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers. Tolleson made one appearance with the Dodgers on April 12, but had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back on April 25 and has since been on the disabled list.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.