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09/11/12 10:00 PM ET

Elbert, Lilly working to return this season

PHOENIX -- As the season winds down, the Dodgers are beginning to see where several players stand in their hopes to return before the 2012 campaign ends.

Left-handed reliever Scott Elbert, who has been shelved since Aug. 26 with elbow inflammation, threw a bullpen session at Chase Field on Tuesday for the first time, while starting pitcher Ted Lilly, on the disabled list since May, tossed a simulated game.

With 21 games remaining before the postseason begins, the Dodgers aren't sure if either will return this year.

"Not quite sure where that takes us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Moving forward, it's getting to the end of the month."

Meanwhile, two players who certainly won't see the field again in 2012 are outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. and shortstop Jerry Hairston.

"I don't think we'll see 'T' this year," Mattingly said of Gwynn, whom the club designated for assignment in early August. "It's a 40-man-roster issue."

Hairston, on the other hand, underwent surgery Monday on his injured hip.

"I haven't heard from him since, but I heard it went OK," Mattingly said.

Kemp returns to lineup against D-backs

PHOENIX -- After missing two games over the weekend with a frayed shoulder labrum, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was back in the lineup Tuesday against the D-backs, feeling refreshed and batting cleanup.

The 27-year-old received a cortisone shot on Saturday in his shoulder, which was injured when he ran into the outfield fence at Coors Field in Denver on Aug. 28. Kemp came out on the field early Tuesday at Chase Field to play catch and hit batting practice before reporting to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly he felt healthy enough to go.

"I can't say he's 100 percent, I'm sure he's not, but he feels good and is ready to go," Mattingly said. "Hopefully it's allowed for him to calm down and get him going. The last time he came out, he felt like he couldn't do anything to help us."

Kemp entered Tuesday batting .315 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. Throughout his injury-plagued season, the 2011 runner-up for the National League MVP Award has missed 56 games.

"I think it's been a challenging year for Matt. It's the first time he's really had to stop and start," Mattingly said. "It's hard to keep your rhythm when you play like that. It's probably been a good learning experience for him."

Gordon returns from thumb injury

PHOENIX -- Bolstering their expanded roster on Tuesday, the Dodgers reinstated shortstop Dee Gordon from the 60-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher Stephen Fife and utility player Elian Herrera from Triple-A Albuquerque.

To make room for Gordon on the 40-man roster, the club placed infielder Adam Kennedy, out since Friday with a strained right groin, on the 60-day disabled list.

Gordon tore a ligament in his right thumb sliding into third base on July 4 and has missed the past 57 games rehabbing after surgery.

"It's been a long time," Gordon said. "It's pretty cool to be back. I'm excited to see what we can put together."

The 24-year-old led the Major Leagues with 30 stolen bases at the time of his injury and is hitting .229 with 36 runs scored in 78 games.

The Dodgers expect to use Gordon mostly in late-game scenarios to take advantage of his speed.

"Pretty much how we're thinking of using him, stealing a bag late and use him in that capacity," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Double-switch him, for the most part, come off the bench, steal you a bag when you need to score a guy from first."

Gordon played in eight rehab games for Albuquerque, hitting .267 with a triple and two steals.

Relishing just being back in the Majors again, the shortstop is ready to fill any role the Dodgers need him to.

"Whatever it is, I'm going to do it well," Gordon said. "I'm going to do what I have to do to help. We have a great group of guys."

While Gordon doesn't figure to play an everyday part of the team as the Dodgers try to win their way into the postseason with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Mattingly still believes Gordon will be a mainstay for the club in coming years.

"I think Dee is going to be a great player," Mattingly said. "What he can bring, very few guys can do. This is a guy that is going to have to get on base better and make better decisions, but I believe that he's a guy that, in the long term, will be a dynamic player."

As for the other additions to the Dodgers, Herrera is hitting .244 with a homer and 16 RBIs in 53 games, while Fife went 11-7 with a 4.66 ERA in 25 games for Albuquerque.

Worth noting

• Even though a sore hip forced Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to have his start pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday, the club felt good about how the pitcher felt before the game against the D-backs.

"I know they'll take some precautions during the game to make sure he stays loose, but he feels good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "They haven't put any limitations on him for the game. He could be sore early or it could be great all day."

• In remembrance of 9/11, all Dodgers wore an American flag patch embroidered on the side of their caps while special lineup cards and jewelry was also used.

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