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06/21/12 8:03 PM ET

Loney's illness causes lineup shuffle

OAKLAND -- James Loney was felled by the flu Thursday, forcing manager Don Mattingly into an unusual Dodgers lineup that included a rookie designated hitter.

Mattingly had Juan Rivera start at first, Elian Herrera in left and Ivan De Jesus serving as designated hitter.

"James was really sick when he woke up," said Mattingly. "He'll be here around game time, but I won't be bringing him in to pitch in the seventh inning."

Loney's desire to pitch notwithstanding, Mattingly said he also thought about using regular catcher A.J. Ellis as designated hitter. Ellis had the day game after a night game off.

"If Ivan is going to be a pinch-hitter guy, he's got to stay sharp," said Mattingly. "But this happens to a National League team [in Interleague Play]. What we're doing today with the DH is because we're not equipped to have a DH. We're just not. Bobby Abreu can be a DH type, but he's played two games in a row and we've got to keep him fresh. It's all part of balancing the roster right now."

Dodgers seek lineup protection for Ethier

OAKLAND -- While the Dodgers continue to look for a starting pitcher, two losses to the A's have been a reminder that they need a run producer too. Someone like Houston's Carlos Lee, perhaps?

Although the Dodgers have precious little to offer in return, Lee is the latest name to surface on the Dodgers radar and that's the kind of bat the Dodgers need, especially with Matt Kemp out of the lineup for another three weeks and Andre Ethier being pitched around.

Manager Don Mattingly said Ethier, who went 0-for-4 in Wednesday night's loss, is dealing with the situation.

"He's really the only true, true threat," said Mattingly. "They're going to stay away from him. All there is to it. As long as he's battling, I have no issues with him.

"I thought right after his first at-bat last night, he crushed the ball to left and it didn't go anywhere. I felt he kind of changed a little bit. But overall, I think he's hung in there. I'm always happy with 'Dre as long as he doesn't give away at-bats."

Although Ethier leads the league in RBIs, he has only one home run in the past month.

Lilly, Hawksworth making progress

OAKLAND -- Pitchers Ted Lilly and Blake Hawksworth, both on the Dodgers' disabled list, are taking forward steps in their recoveries.

Lilly, out since May 24 with left shoulder inflammation, will resume playing catch when he rejoins the club on Friday in Anaheim.

Hawksworth, sidelined since a pair of elbow operations before the season started, will begin a Minor League rehab assignment at Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night.

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