LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he will continue giving second baseman Mark Ellis alternate days off "so he can get over the hump" with a strained right groin that Ellis said has improved significantly in the last three days.
As added protection with the injuries to Ellis and shortstop Hanley Ramirez, shortstop Dee Gordon started at second base for Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday night.
The club is also finally considering getting Gordon some outfield playing time.
Hanley returning as Lilly heads back to DL
LOS ANGELES -- Ted Lilly won't start Sunday, but Hanley Ramirez and Matt Magill will, according to the latest Dodgers injury update.
Lilly will be sent to the disabled list with a chronic neck disc issue, manager Don Mattingly confirmed Saturday. Magill is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to make his second consecutive emergency start after last Sunday's mess in Denver, when he walked nine batters and allowed seven runs, although the club hasn't confirmed Magill's recall.
Ramirez missed his third consecutive start on Saturday night, but he delivered an RBI single with a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Braves. Before the game, he said his troublesome left hamstring felt fine and Mattingly confirmed he held Ramirez out of the lineup as a precautionary measure and expected to turn him loose again Sunday.
"He's a lot better today," said Mattingly. "He kind of wanted to go today. If everything stays the same all day long, he'll go tomorrow. I feel like he can't be stiff one day and then throw him out there the next. Just trying to be cautious so he doesn't land back on the [disabled] list if we can help it."
Mattingly said Lilly and the club are united in their frustration over his neck problem because of its unpredictability.
"We don't know when it will pop up," he said. "He could be [set to start] Sunday, and Saturday night he leaves here and he's fine and he sleeps funny and Sunday morning he can't turn his head, and it seems fairly regularly going on. It's not his fault his body is not going right."
Mattingly said Lilly's training program will be changed to eliminate bouncing, jumping and running to take those variables out of the equation.
"We'll bubble-wrap him until he comes back out to pitch," he said, half-joking. "It could have been the collision [with San Diego's Kyle Blanks, backing up third base on Tuesday night]. We just don't know. We never know each outing if it's going to tighten up or he can go out like he did a couple times ago and pitched great against the Angels. That's the battle we face."
• Matt Kemp, on the DL with a mild right hamstring strain, will rehab one or two games with Albuquerque next week when the Isotopes play at Round Rock (a Monday-Thursday series).
• A.J. Ellis, on the DL with a left oblique strain, hit and is 90 percent recovered from an oblique strain, with a rehab assignment also planned for next week.
• Chris Capuano, on the DL with a left shoulder latissimus strain, is playing catch with no discomfort in his strained lat muscle. All three are eligible to return for next Friday's game in Pittsburgh.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.