05/28/12 9:00 PM ET
Abreu providing veteran leadership
By Ken Gurnick and Alex Angert / MLB.com
Abreu has hit .327 with seven RBIs, six extra-base hits and 11 runs in 21 games since joining the Dodgers on May 4. The outfielder was released by the Angels on April 30 after hitting .208 to start the season.
"His name came up when we saw he got released," manager Don Mattingly said. "It couldn't have been better timing for us. He kind of stepped in and all of a sudden we lose a few guys and Bobby has been playing a lot more than we really anticipated."
He wasn't in the lineup Sunday against the Astros, but he was called upon with the bases loaded in the seventh and drew a walk against lefty Xavier Cedeno to extend the Dodgers' lead to 3-1.
"That at-bat yesterday was really kind of amazing," Mattingly said. "You don't get to see many guys get a guy they have never seen before and get down 0-2 and end up walking. He was calm the whole time."
Abreu's patience, which has led to 12 walks already since joining the Dodgers, has his younger teammates taking notice.
Mattingly, who also coached Abreu with the Yankees, said many players -- on his team and others -- talk hitting with Abreu often, as well as take the time to watch the two-time All-Star take batting practice.
Shoulder inflammation forces Lilly to DL
LOS ANGELES -- Either the left shoulder injury that put Dodgers starter Ted Lilly on the disabled list Monday isn't serious or Lilly doesn't want to know it's serious, because no MRI has been taken.
Lilly had a cortisone injection and is taking anti-inflammatory medication for an injury he said he first felt after a winning May 18 start against St. Louis, and again after his first loss of the year last Wednesday in Arizona. The Dodgers have issued the non-specific diagnosis of shoulder inflammation.
Lilly said he hopes to be throwing again by the end of the week.
"If that's the case, we're feeling it's short-term," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's had stuff before, and it sounds like something he caught early. In the past he would have thrown another game with it. Hopefully, that's a good sign for us."
Speaking of short term, the Dodgers called up left-hander Michael Antonini from Triple-A Albuquerque for a day, then replaced him for Tuesday night's start with Nathan Eovaldi. Mattingly said Antonini was called up because he's a true long reliever, a curious observation as the Dodgers haven't needed one while compiling the best record in baseball.
Lilly, in the second year of a three-year, $33 million contract, knows when shoulder injuries are serious, having had one that disabled him in 2009. He returned to pitch in pain the rest of the year, then had arthroscopic surgery to clean up debris and labrum fraying in November. He still wasn't ready when the next season started, finally returning April 24.
"I felt it after the game, when the adrenaline wore off," said Lilly. "I knew something was wrong with it. After the off-day, the next day it was bothering me, so we're taking the time and hoping it gets better and doing what we have to do to get back as soon as possible."
It's a blow to Lilly, who got off to his best start, even though he missed his first outing while disabled for chronic neck stiffness. He's 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA, even after allowing eight runs in 3 1/3 his last time out.
"Getting off to a good start, you have expectations, trying to make the All-Star team and this definitely will make that a difficult thing to do," he said. "I already missed one start early in the year, but I don't know what else I could have done to try to prevent it. It's part of the game."
Antonini was 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in nine games (eight starts) for Albuquerque. He was called up briefly by the Dodgers in April, but did not pitch. He probably won't pitch this time, either, as Eovaldi is expected to make the start Tuesday.
Kemp homers in second straight rehab game
LOS ANGELES -- On Sunday, Matt Kemp went yard again in the second and final game of his rehab stint at Triple-A Albuquerque. The center fielder finished 3-for-4 with two runs, a double and two RBIs to go along with the home run.
As long as there is no setback, manager Don Mattingly said Kemp will be activated for Tuesday night's game against the Brewers. He finished his two-game rehab assignment 5-for-7 with two home runs and five RBIs.
Juan Rivera, also taking part in the rehab assignment, finished Sunday's game 1-for-3 with a run, RBI and a walk while playing left field and first base. Rivera homered Saturday night and went 1-for-2 with two RBIs in the first game.
"It wasn't about what they were able to accomplish down there as far as production," Mattingly said. "It was way more that they were going to be healthy and obviously it sounds like everything is good."
He added Rivera would probably be back before or around the time the team leaves on its upcoming road trip starting Friday.
With the Isotopes hitting the road, Rivera is expected to play more rehab games for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Mattingly said Rivera is ahead of schedule and it will be up to him to determine when he feels ready to go.
Dodgers honor veterans on Memorial Day
LOS ANGELES -- Prior to Monday's first pitch at Dodger Stadium, a number of American veterans were honored on the field in a tribute for Memorial Day to those who have served the country.
The tribute began with a performance of "Yankee Doodle" on the organ and was followed with the honoring of the Veteran of the Game, U.S. Army Sergeant Luis Garcia. Garcia is from Orange, Calif., and he served two tours in Iraq, earning a number of medals for his service.
The pregame ceremony continued with the singing of "God Bless America" by U.S. Air Force Reserve Staff Sergeant DeJon Fruga of the March Air Reserve Base.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Michael Meija, who served two deployments in Iraq and another in Afghanistan since joining the Marines in 2003. A trio of veterans -- U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Ernest Aleman, U.S. Lance Corporal Nathaniel Boldt and U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Christopher Johnson -- opened the game with a chanting of "it's time for Dodger baseball!"
The ceremony also included a moment of silence, which was followed with a moment for all veterans in attendance to stand, prompting screams of "thank you" from the crowd. Broadcaster Rick Monday, who was a Marine Corps medic for six years, was shown on the big screen before the game, earning him a loud round of applause from the crowd.
Gwynn returning to more limited role
LOS ANGELES -- Since Matt Kemp hit the disabled list on May 14 with a left hamstring strain, the center-field position hasn't missed a beat. Tony Gwynn has filled in admirably for the All-Star, batting .326 in his last 10 games.
Now, with Kemp expected to return to the lineup Tuesday night, Gwynn's role will go back to what it was earlier this season.
"Everybody in a sense has needed to step up, but Tony has been giving us great defense in center and offensively he's been getting big hits all over the place," manager Don Mattingly said.
Against the Astros, Gwynn delivered a key two-out, two-run single Saturday night, and he went 2-for-5 with a run and a pair of RBI singles on Sunday. He even added a pair of steals in the series finale.
The center fielder said he approached his numbered at-bats in the starting lineup no differently than he would normally. He is hitting 12-for-25 with runners in scoring position.
"I always try to make the most of my chances regardless of what the situation is," he said, adding he didn't feel any sense of urgency. "I'm just trying to get the team going and that's about it."
With Dee Gordon struggling offensively, Gwynn was inserted into the leadoff role and he has thrived there.
Gwynn said he hasn't talked to Mattingly about his role upon the return of Kemp -- and eventually Juan Rivera -- but Gwynn said he hopes his recent play has earned him some extra playing time in the future. Mattingly said figuring a place for Gwynn in the lineup will be difficult, especially with Bobby Abreu producing lately.
"He's a great option for me and we are going to keep him in the mix for sure, but we're going to try to put the best lineup out there," Mattingly said.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.