LOS ANGELES -- There are a lot of reasons for Don Mattingly to be down these days. The manager has witnessed his team's lead in the National League West disappear, and heading into Thursday's game, the Dodgers hadn't scored in 30 innings, their longest stretch since 1996.
Regardless, Mattingly was optimistic and in a good mood hours before first pitch on Thursday, largely thanks to a number of players on the mend.
He said there is a good chance the Dodgers get Mark Ellis back before the All-Star break and he is hopeful Matt Kemp will return quickly afterward. The good news about Andre Ethier's strained left oblique and reliever Javy Guerra's expected return soon from injury -- he was fielding grounders from the mound Thursday -- has Mattingly confident the Dodgers' recent struggles won't last.
"Within a short period of time, we're going to see our lineup back together if everything goes in that direction," Mattingly said.
Without Ellis, Kemp and Ethier, the Dodgers are missing their 2-3-4 hitters in the lineup. On Thursday, callup Elian Herrera, veteran Juan Rivera and struggling James Loney were penciled in those spots.
However, Mattingly is hopeful with a number of injured guys healing. Kemp and Ellis have been working out together, and Mattingly said Ellis is close while Kemp is not far behind. Guerra is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Friday and Ethier isn't expected to hit the disabled list.
"We're getting ready to get some pretty big pieces of our club back in the mix," Mattingly said. "And I think at the end of the day, we've got to be optimistic."