LOS ANGELES -- A month ahead of schedule, second baseman Mark Ellis will begin a four-day rehab stint Saturday with Class A Rancho Cucamonga with hopes of making his return from the disabled list on Thursday, when the Dodgers take on the D-backs.
Ellis, who underwent emergency surgery May 19 to relieve pressure from swelling in his lower left leg after a take-out slide by St. Louis baserunner Tyler Greene, plans to DH the whole game on Saturday, followed by playing five innings and then two seven-inning games. After taking a day off, he is expected to join the Dodgers in Arizona.
"When you are in the hospital for five days, you don't have a lot of good thoughts going on through your head," Ellis said. "But once we started doing rehab, everything came along pretty quickly."
At first, the second baseman thought he would be sidelined until Aug. 1. But now he said can do everything on the field comfortably.
"I don't want to jinx it, but I never would have thought I would be playing rehab games before the All-Star break," said Ellis, who added he feels guilty not being able to help the team while hurt.
He said he isn't worried about getting hits while rehabbing at Rancho Cucamonga -- where he'll likely be joined by reliever Javy Guerra on Sunday -- but rather will focus on seeing as many pitches as possible.
Manager Don Mattingly said he didn't think his second baseman would be back this early either, especially because there were fears that he could possibly need another knee surgery once he was healthy.
For Mattingly, the return of Ellis means consistency at a position and spot in the lineup that has created a snowball effect of shuffling players around. It also means an improvement in both defense and leadership.
"If you hit it to Mark Ellis, you are out," Mattingly said. "Having that same guy there 90 percent of the time, he wasn't going to play every day, but having that guy at second and up the middle making plays and being in the right spot, it's almost like a coach on the field."