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07/14/10 11:53 PM ET

Dodgers reportedly place Sherrill on waivers

Manny expected to return for opening series vs. Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Dodgers left-handed reliever George Sherrill has been placed on outright waivers, according to a baseball source. The club did not comment and Sherrill is still on the active roster.

Another club could claim Sherrill and the remainder of his $4.5 million salary. More likely he would clear waivers, at which time the Dodgers could attempt to outright him to the Minor Leagues and remove him from the 40-man roster. As a player with more than five years service Sherrill has the choice to consent to a Minor League assignment, reject a Minor League assignment or declare free agency, which would nullify the remainder of his $4.5 million salary. If Sherrill rejected such an assignment, the club must either release him to become a free agent (and pay him) or keep him on the active roster.

Sherrill, 33, has struggled since the beginning of Spring Training and has been replaced by Hong-Chih Kuo as the primary eighth-inning setup man for closer Jonathan Broxton. Sherrill has a 7.32 ERA in 19 2/3 innings and has been relegated to a situational left-handed reliever role.

Almost one year ago the Dodgers acquired Sherrill, who was Baltimore's All-Star closer, and he allowed only two earned runs in 30 appearances.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are back in action Thursday and Manny Ramirez is expected to return from the disabled list for the four-game series against the Cardinals.

Apparently, the club is looking at more than his Minor League rehab assignment stats -- 0-for-9 with five strikeouts -- as an indicator that the strained hamstring Ramirez suffered in San Francisco is fully healed, or as healed as Ramirez's 38-year-old legs can get.

This was Ramirez's second stint on the disabled list this year, after a strained calf muscle he suffered in April. When management felt somewhat trapped into having to re-sign Ramirez after his incredible salary-drive stretch run in 2008, a huge concern was how quickly he would age.

Apparently, the answer has been very quickly. After returning from last year's 50-game suspension, Ramirez struggled. Now he's become more of a singles hitter than the slugger he once was, but most opponents still respect his potential production that he remains an important part of the middle of the Dodgers lineup.

Xavier Paul is likely to be sent back to Albuquerque to make room for Ramirez, unless Reed Johnson's back injury turns out more serious than the club originally believed.

In other news, pitcher James McDonald is likely to get another shot at being the fifth starter and be promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque in time for Monday night's game. McDonald, who blew a chance to be the fifth starter with a poor Spring Training, has recovered from a hamstring injury and has enjoyed sudden success with the addition of a slider to his repertoire.

Manager Joe Torre has not announced McDonald as the Monday starter and said Carlos Monasterios still could get the nod. The decision might be influenced by how much the bullpen is used in St. Louis.

Brad Ausmus (6-for-12 in four rehab games) will continue his Minor League assignment, but he could rejoin the Major League club by next week and reclaim his role as backup catcher. Ausmus has made a rapid recovery from April back surgery.

The news blackout remains on reliever Ronald Belisario, who is on the restricted list. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Belisario has a substance abuse problem.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.