NEW YORK -- Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is likely to begin a Minor League rehab assignment within the next few days, but he'll still need to wear a splint when he returns to the Dodgers, because the repaired ligament in his right thumb will still be healing.
"Maybe by the end of next week I hope to be [active]," Ramirez said after an improved workout, watched by manager Don Mattingly. "It's still swollen. It doesn't look normal yet. I don't want to come back and go back to the DL. It won't be 100 percent, but it'll be at a level I'm comfortable with.
"Right now I think about it a little bit. I still feel it. I have to wear the splint for six weeks. If I come back early, I still have to have it."
After undergoing surgery on March 22, Ramirez was told his healing time would be six to eight weeks, but he's been throwing and hitting for more than a week.
Mattingly said that Ramirez's throws on Wednesday were much improved over those he made last Friday in Baltimore.
Dodgers activate Lilly prior to start vs. Mets
NEW YORK -- The Dodgers reinstated left-hander Ted Lilly from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon in time to start against the Mets.
In a corresponding move, Los Angeles optioned catcher Tim Federowicz to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Lilly has been on the DL since March 28, recovering from the Sept. 21 surgery on his left labrum. He made two rehab starts for Class A Rancho Cucamonga and one for Albuquerque.
The southpaw last pitched on April 16 for Rancho Cucamonga at Lake Elsinore, surrendering four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He threw 81 pitches in five innings. His last big league outing came on May 23, 2012.
Injuries to Chad Billingsley (who needs Tommy John surgery), Zack Greinke (fractured collarbone) and Chris Capuano (strained calf) opened the door for Lilly.
With Lilly back, Federowicz sent to Minors
NEW YORK -- Catcher Tim Federowicz was returned to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room on the roster for left-hander Ted Lilly, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.
This was no surprise to Federowicz, who was told the move would happen when he was recalled April 17 and pitcher Chris Capuano was placed on the DL. Federowicz had been optioned to Albuquerque on April 9 after the Dodgers acquired veteran backup catcher Ramon Hernandez from Colorado for pitcher Aaron Harang.
Prior to that he thought he would be a backup catcher in the Majors, having made the Opening Day roster and told by management that he had nothing further to prove after a full season at Triple-A.
But the team has a tendency to acquire veteran backup catchers, as A.J. Ellis could confirm after being passed over numerous times before finally given a chance in the bigs only when he was out of options.
"I'm the one out of luck," said Federowicz, who still has options. "They just told me the same stuff as the last time -- I'm still in their plans, keep working hard."
Said manager Don Mattingly: "I tell him the truth. We signed Ramon for experience and depth. He's aware we had a need. It's not necessarily a bad thing. If A.J. gets hurt, Fed would get the most at-bats. We look at Ramon as a backup, a couple of times a week. So if something happens to A.J., we can't have Fed sitting around and expect him to be ready to play. Obviously, he's disappointed, but that's no different than a lot of guys. His biggest flaw is, he has options."
Capuano targeting Saturday for rehab start
NEW YORK -- Chris Capuano was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, which would put him on schedule to make a rehab start on Saturday. He is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on May 2, a day off for the Dodgers.
Manager Don Mattingly said that Capuano had not tested his mild calf strain by running, but he has passed all other physical exams and is on target to be activated on time.
"Then it's just a matter of where to fit him in," Mattingly said.
That implies that Capuano is being viewed as a replacement in the rotation for either the veteran Ted Lilly, Wednesday night's starter, or Stephen Fife, who is scheduled to make his second start in place of the injured Chad Billingsley on Saturday night, against Milwaukee.
Capuano first felt the strain during pregame warmups on April 11 but aggravated the calf running in from the bullpen that night during the Dodgers-Padres brawl, in which Zack Greinke was injured. Capuano took Greinke's next start, on April 16, but lasted only two-plus innings before leaving with the injury.
Belisario rebounds with perfect inning
NEW YORK -- Ronald Belisario, demoted from late-inning duty after a subpar outing in Baltimore on Saturday, rebounded with a perfect inning on Tuesday night and got the win over the Mets.
"I don't know what they did with him, but he was much better," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
So what did they do with him?
"Nothing," said Belisario. "I look at video, but everything's the same. I was just in a little slump. Now I'm back. I forget about the past."
Said manager Don Mattingly: "We just want his ball to go down. Last night it went down. He was good."