4/18/2014 10:09 P.M. ET
Howell offers versatility as lone lefty in bullpen
By Earl Bloom / Special to MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- With Paul Maholm in the rotation when the Dodgers need a fifth starter and Paco Rodriguez sent to Triple-A Albuquerque, J.P. Howell is the lone left-hander in the bullpen.
Which is fine, manager Don Mattingly said, because the Dodgers don't consider him a situational lefty anyway.
"We feel like he can get left-handers and right-handers out," Mattingly said.
That was the way Howell was used with the Rays as well.
"We've got a couple of [right-handed] guys out there we're comfortable using against left-handed hitters," Mattingly said, citing Chris Withrow and Jamey Wright.
Hanley returns to lineup from hand injury
LOS ANGELES -- As he predicted a day earlier, Hanley Ramirez was back in the Dodgers lineup Friday, batting third and playing shortstop, after a one-game absence.
Ramirez was struck on the left hand by a Ryan Vogelsong pitch Wednesday in San Francisco and was held out of Thursday's game.
"Am I playing?" Ramirez said when asked, then leaned over to check the lineup card, conveniently posted next to his locker, although he already knew the answer. "It's sore, but I'm playing."
Ramirez added there wasn't as much soreness as there was Thursday.
"This is really Hanley's call," manager Don Mattingly said. "You know as a player if you can play or not. When they [the Dodgers' medical staff] talked to him today, he said he was good to go."
If Ramirez had needed more time, Mattingly said, the Dodgers have pretty good options to hit No. 3 in Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier.
"Without him [Ramirez], we're set up better than other teams would be," the manager said. "It's still hard to say you're going to be as good if Hanley's not in the lineup."
Left-handed hitters Ethier and Carl Crawford were not in the lineup against D-backs lefty Wade Miley. But Mattingly said, that's not always how it's going to be, as he rotates four starting outfielders plus Scott Van Slyke, who started in left field and is 4-for-11 with two homers against Miley.
Van Slyke is also the backup for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the only left-handed hitter in the lineup against Miley. Gonzalez has hit .308 against him.
"We've had so many off-days, there's no need to get Adrian out of the lineup against a left-hander," Mattingly said. "As the season goes along, I'm going to put Scott at first to give Adrian a day, so one of those left-handed hitters [Crawford, Ethier] is going to be in there against a lefty."
Justin Turner was at second in place of lefty-hitting Dee Gordon, but Mattingly said: "If Dee keeps doing what he's doing [he's battting .373], he's going to get some chance against left-handers."
Ellis getting up to speed after knee surgery
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, just 10 days removed from left knee surgery, resumed hitting, throwing and catching on the recent road trip.
"I can do everything, baseball-wise, except run," Ellis said Friday, "and that's not a big part of my game."
He's had similar surgery on the knee before but said the rehab process is different.
"It's a little more accelerated this time, because it was in the offseason [after the 2012 season] the last time," Ellis said. "The biggest thing is, I felt so much better when I woke up the morning after surgery, and it's all been good since."
• Manager Don Mattingly continues to dispel any notion he's concerned about closer Kenley Jansen (5.00 ERA, .325 opponents average) at this point.
"I have no real concerns, I'm not thinking about doing anything any different," Mattingly said. "He hit 100 [mph] the other day. It's going forwards, not backwards. The ball is coming out of his hand fine."
• Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu pledged a $100,000 donation through his foundation to a charity to help those affected by the SEWOL ferry disaster in South Korea.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.