Manny nears return; Padilla out through May

Manny nears return; Padilla out through May

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers expect star slugger Manny Ramirez to return shortly, but they will be without their Opening Day pitcher for at least another month.

Vicente Padilla's right-elbow soreness should keep him out until at least the end of May, manager Joe Torre said Sunday.

"He's better, he's feeling better, but not having thrown for a while, I don't see him helping us this month," Torre said. "That's not anything, I think, unusual."

Padilla went on the disabled list April 25, three days after taking a no-decision in an 8-5 loss to the Reds. Padilla is 1-1 with a 7.06 ERA in four starts.

Ramirez is eligible to return from the disabled list Saturday. Bothered by a right-calf strain, Ramirez is scheduled to join Jeff Weaver in a rehab appearance for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers on Tuesday in San Bernardino.

The Dodgers considered trying to get Ramirez some at-bats at Triple-A to better prepare him for big league pitching, but the Albuquerque Isotopes are on the road in Memphis mid-week. That's too far, and too much of a circus, for Ramirez, Torre felt, because he has been able to take batting practice while he's healed.

"I'm not really concerned, Manny hasn't been away that long," Torre said.

Torre said Weaver, out with a right-lower-back strain, felt fine Sunday after throwing three innings of a simulated game at Dodger Stadium the day before. Weaver is scheduled to throw three innings in a start for San Bernardino Tuesday to prepare for a Friday return to the Dodgers' bullpen.