CHICAGO -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he believes outfielder Yasiel Puig will miss only one or two days with a bruised left thumb that he injured while making a diving catch on Saturday.
Disclaimer: Mattingly is in an 0-for-2013 slump on medical predictions.
But Mattingly said Puig would be partially available Sunday for defense and pinch-running.
"Actually, he's pretty good," Mattingly said of Puig. "He's better today than we anticipated. There's a little soreness, for sure. He wore the brace overnight and it was stiff this morning, but as he got moving it got better. We anticipate the way he plays, he's going to get some stuff. He's been durable, really."
The injury is near, but not as bad, as a similar one Puig suffered earlier this season with Double-A Chattanooga that sidelined him 10 games. Among the injuries Puig has dealt with since his promotion two months ago are a sore wrist and shoulder from a head-first dive into first base and a sore hip slamming into the wall at Coors Field.
"I feel like we're out of the woods by the way he came in," said Mattingly. "He's had it before, so he knows what he can and can't do. I'm hopeful to have him tomorrow. I'm not 100 percent sure, and if he's iffy, we'll wait another day."
The Dodgers waited for Puig to arrive Sunday before deciding to option Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque and make room for starting pitcher Stephen Fife.
Van Slyke optioned, but still considered valuable
CHICAGO -- The Dodgers waited to see that Yasiel Puig's thumb injury wasn't serious before optioning Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for the activation of Sunday's starting pitcher, Stephen Fife.
Although Van Slyke has given the Dodgers a power bat off the bench who can play the outfield corners and first base, he seems to have become the easy option because he has options.
The Dodgers haven't given up on reliever Carlos Marmol, and manager Don Mattingly said he never considered sending rookie reliever Chris Withrow back to the Minor Leagues because the right-hander has quickly earned the staff's trust in important game situations.
"I don't want to send Withrow down," said Mattingly. "I think he's a fairly big piece for us. He can go two or three innings, can go short and gives us the ability to use different people in different ways."
Mattingly said the optioning of Van Slyke was a numbers decision and shouldn't be misread.
"Scott's swinging the bat well, but we're going to face only one left-hander in the next 16 days," he said. "One thing we have seen from Scott, when he sits six or seven or eight days, that doesn't do us a lot of good. He had good at-bats here and he's going to end up being a valuable piece, but right now this makes the most sense."
Mattingly said knowing that Van Slyke was likely going down Sunday entered the equation of moving up a day off for Adrian Gonzalez from Sunday to Saturday. Van Slyke started for Gonzalez, who was out with upper body stiffness.
"It made it easier, but Adrian really needed that day yesterday," Mattingly said. "Adrian's a lot better today. Yesterday he wasn't that good."
The demotion prevents Van Slyke of an opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his hometown of St. Louis, where the Dodgers' road trip continues Monday night.
Dodgers release veteran left-hander Lilly
CHICAGO -- The Dodgers released pitcher Ted Lilly, who had been designated for assignment on July 25, one day after coming off the disabled list.
The Dodgers will be responsible for the remainder of the final year of Lilly's three-year, $33 million contract.
Lilly, 37, is a free agent and can sign with any club. He spent three stints on the disabled list this year -- for his surgically repaired left shoulder, a strained rib cage muscle and an arthritic neck. He was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five starts.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.