Manny's return appears imminent

Manny's return appears imminent

LOS ANGELES -- With a lineup that's found scoring runs to be "like pulling teeth," in the words of manager Joe Torre, a Saturday return for Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez would be more than welcome. And it could happen.

Ramirez went 0-for-2 and fulfilled a six-inning quota in left field with Class A Inland Empire Friday night, potentially his last rehab appearance before being activated.

"We'll see how he feels," Torre said. "And then we'll make a decision. It's possible."

Ramirez, out with a strained right calf, is 1-for-6 with five strikeouts and two walks through three games in San Bernardino. He was pinch-hit for with one out and one on in the bottom of the sixth on Friday. Torre said in the afternoon that six innings was the length he wanted Ramirez to play the field, but it's unknown why Ramirez did not take his third at-bat in the bottom of the inning.

Torre and trainer Stan Conte spoke to Ramirez on Friday, and both reported that Ramirez said his calf was feeling great. The Dodgers have an off-day on Monday, and the roster move necessary to make room for Ramirez isn't a no-brainer, which might push Ramirez's return to Tuesday in Milwaukee.

"He said he felt good, and I just told him that we need to have a little more of a read on being able to handle the outfield stuff," Torre said. "We have to make a move and that move's not going to be easy to make."

Inland Empire begins a three-game road trip on Saturday to Bakersfield, Calif., which wouldn't take Ramirez far, but that may be a consideration as well.