LOS ANGELES -- Manny Ramirez, singles hitter?

It hasn't quite come to that. On the other hand, Dodgers manager Joe Torre has been saying since the offseason that Ramirez might not hit as many home runs as he has in the past, but can still be a productive hitter. And that pretty much fits the current scouting report.

He's batting .357, which would be the highest batting average of his life if it stayed that way the entire season. But his .529 slugging percentage is lower than all but one of his full seasons in the Major Leagues. He has two home runs in 70 at-bats, or one every 35 at-bats. Last year, when he hit only 19 in a season shortened by a 50-game suspension, he still averaged one homer every 22 at-bats.

"He's hitting the ball hard. Just not in the air," said Torre. "His production is what we want. All I care about are RBIs from him."

Ramirez has 19 RBIs, or one every 3.68 at-bats. That's well ahead of his career pace of one every 4.44 at-bats. Ramirez's bulk numbers are down because he missed 14 games while on the disabled list with a strained calf muscle.

"He wouldn't be hitting .360 if he was trying to hit home runs," said Torre. "There's not any question he can win a batting title. He's capable of winning one."

Ramirez won an American League batting title in 2002 with a .349 average and has finished in the top five four other seasons.

Furcal shows improvement

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal finally reported improvement in his strained left hamstring on Wednesday and said he could be activated "in a few days, maybe during the weekend."

"I feel much better," said Furcal, who has been on the disabled list since suffering the injury April 27, missing 19 games. "I feel a little more strong, not like I got something inside moving around. Yesterday and today are two good days."

Furcal went to Class A Inland Empire for a two-game rehab assignment last week, but came back complaining that his leg still wasn't 100 percent. After testing it running in the outfield and on the bases Wednesday, Furcal said he might not need another Minor League rehab.

"His best workout so far," said Torre. "Absolutely no sensation at all. We'll do this the next couple days and make a decision by the weekend about what we'll do."

Torre, however, said Furcal can be activated when the player is confident he can run without limitation and the training staff is satisfied that he's been adequately tested. Usually, but not always, that test includes a Minor League game.

Torre also said injured Opening Day starting pitcher Vicente Padilla bounced back from his first mound session Tuesday well enough to throw long-toss on Wednesday and schedule another mound session Thursday. Padilla is on the DL with a rare irritation of the radial nerve and is next expected back until next month.

Haeger looks sharp in rehab start

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitcher Charlie Haeger pitched five innings in his second injury rehabilitation start for Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday night.

Haeger allowed High Desert three runs (one earned) on three hits (one homer) with six strikeouts and three walks. He had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis on May 9 and is eligible to come off the DL on Monday.

Haeger was 0-4 with a 8.59 ERA as the Dodgers' fifth starter. While at Inland Empire, he has been reunited with pitching coach and fellow knuckleball specialist Charlie Hough.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers promoted 40-year-old South Korean reliever Hyang-Nam Choi from extended spring training to Triple-A Albuquerque this week to replace former Major League right-hander Luis Ayala, who opted out of his contract when he wasn't called up to the Major Leagues.

Choi was dominant pitching for Albuquerque last year, going 9-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 33 games while striking out 77 in 57 2/3 innings. Ayala was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA.