Elbert was placed on the 15-day disabled list, allowing the Dodgers to recall Stephen Fife to start Friday night's game against the Giants.
Elbert dealt with elbow discomfort before the All-Star break, believed to be from a bone spur, and thought it had cleared up, but he came up sore after walking the only batter he faced Tuesday night.
"It wound up pretty good, nothing major," said Mattingly. "It looks like a 15-day thing and he'll be ready to go. He knows it's nothing, no ligament or tendon damage. Just some rubbing, causing irritation, but nothing major."
Elbert is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 39 games. Randy Choate, acquired in the Hanley Ramirez trade, effectively becomes the situational lefty. Mattingly said the club included Choate in the trade before knowing that Elbert was injured, having earlier decided a second lefty in the bullpen was needed.
Elbert's injury allowed the Dodgers to recall Fife for the Friday start, which originally was to be taken by Nathan Eovaldi, until he was dealt to Miami in the Ramirez-Choate deal.
Fife wasn't legally an option for the start, because after making a solid debut start against the Phillies and Roy Halladay on July 17, he was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque the next day. A player cannot be recalled within 10 days of an option unless he replaces an injured player. Elbert is the injured player Fife now replaces.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.