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07/24/10 4:41 PM ET

Healthy Ausmus back behind plate

LOS ANGELES -- Healthy after back surgery, 41-year-old backup catcher Brad Ausmus returned to the Dodgers' lineup on Saturday for the first time since April.

Manager Joe Torre delivered the message to Ausmus on Friday night during a 6-1 loss to the Mets.

"Last night during the game, I said, 'It's you tomorrow,'" Torre said. "'Game of the week!' was the first thing that came out of his mouth. That's his personality."

Ausmus went 1-for-4 in his only game played this season before a herniated disk threatened to keep him out until even later in the season. He recovered from the surgery ahead of schedule.

Having Ausmus' presence behind the plate for rookie Carlos Monasterios' start on Saturday was appealing to Torre. Monasterios has bounced between the bullpen and the rotation this season.

"I don't want to make him older than he is, but he's sort of comfortable for a pitcher to pitch to because he thinks," Torre said of Ausmus. "He thinks like a pitcher. He's had great experience through the years."

Ethier takes a breather to regain footing

LOS ANGELES -- With a 1-for-19 skid on the homestand, Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier was given a day off Saturday against the Mets.

Manager Joe Torre talked to Ethier on Friday night and could see the All-Star was frustrated.

"He's struggling, just struggling," Torre said. "Looks like just he's just fighting it, frustration on top of everything else. He hasn't had any time off, the All-Star Game, the whole thing."

Torre said he was told the other day by coach Jeff Pentland that Ethier's pregame batting work was reaching the same quality before a broken finger put Ethier on the DL in May, when the outfielder was leading the league in batting average, homers and RBIs. Right now, though, Torre said Ethier simply has no patience.

"I don't think it's any secret they're trying to go around him and he's really gotten outside himself where he's lost all his patience at the plate," Torre said. "He's just up there swinging the bat right now."

Ethier's numbers are still strong, with a .302 average, 16 home runs and 57 RBIs in 79 games.

LA unsure where to go to fill roster

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers could call up a position player, likely an outfielder, in the next few days, manager Joe Torre said on Saturday. Los Angeles currently has 13 pitchers as it searches for bullpen help anywhere it can find it. But with Reed Johnson and Manny Ramirez on the disabled list, the team could use an outfielder.

Johnson, out with a lumbar strain, has stalled a bit in his recovery. He was eligible to come off the DL Saturday.

"He's not really close to come back, not until we send him to rehab," Torre said. "Then we'll be able to put a clock on him. He's sort of staying at that level. He was moving, moving, moving, but now, he's sort of staying in the same place for a little. It feels better, but he's still going to have to go out and play a little bit to make sure it's OK."

The problem is the right-handed bat at Triple-A Albuquerque that makes the most sense, John Lindsey, is a first baseman whom Torre said isn't an outfield option. The left-handed bat, Jay Gibbons, is an outfielder, but his use is on the offensive side, Torre said, and the Dodgers already have left-handed bats in Garret Anderson and Xavier Paul.

"Well, the thing is, who would the other player be at this point? That's the only thing," Torre said. "John's a right-handed hitter, he'd be intriguing. Gibbons is a left-handed hitter, Major League experience, outfield, first base, but really an offensive guy, more a pinch-hitter guy.

"John, all year, he's been on fire. He started hitting in Spring Training the last couple games, when I went over to watch Russell [Martin] in the spring. Especially Gibbons, who's really been consistent, doing a nice job. Right now, it's all about room and balance."

Torre has been beholden to Anderson more for his presence and intangibles than his on-field contribution. He's batting .186.

Dodgers hope Ely steps up for No. 5 spot

LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Monasterios started in the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation on Saturday after righty James McDonald didn't impress enough the turn before. Manager Joe Torre said anyone who can grab the spot by the reins can have it -- but he has his eye on Triple-A Albuquerque, where John Ely is straightening out.

"Right now, we're still waiting for Ely to sort of re-emerge, because I think we've seen enough of him to like what we saw," Torre said. "He needed to go down and sort of get himself back in order."

Ely was scheduled to start on Friday, but was scratched after a ball hit him on the leg during batting practice. Ely has made one start since he was demoted -- a seven-inning, three-run performance.

"That's pretty tough to hit him because he hardly stands still," Torre said of Ely, who's fidgety.

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.