LOS ANGELES -- Pitching remains a priority for the Dodgers as they approach the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but acquiring a hitter became a little more important Tuesday.

Manny Ramirez's third trip to the disabled list of the season Tuesday gave the Dodgers added reason to go after a bat, a baseball source said.

"Now with Manny down 'til who knows, three-plus weeks, whatever it's going to be, you may all of a sudden be in the market for more stuff," manager Joe Torre said. "I know that Ned has been on the phone and continues to be on the phone and hopefully we have some options and it makes sense. But my guess is we'll do something."

Ramirez is on the DL retroactive to Saturday with a right calf strain. The Dodgers have been without a stable fifth starter for almost all of the season, aside from brief glimpses from John Ely, and three pieces of the bullpen -- Ronald Belisario (who is on the restricted list and reportedly seeking substance-abuse treatment), George Sherrill and Ramon Troncoso -- have not worked out as expected.

Determined Ausmus returns to action

LOS ANGELES -- Even if Dodgers backup catcher Brad Ausmus wasn't overly impressed with how quickly he came back from an April operation on a herniated disk, his manager was.

Ausmus, 41, was activated from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday in place of Manny Ramirez, who went to the 15-day DL with a calf strain.

"It's pretty remarkable," Joe Torre said. "Again, he was pretty well-determined that he was going to do this. You get to his age and you have a surgery like that, you say 'It's been a great run, see ya later.' But to have the energy and the determination to want to do that, it's very impressive."

"It really depends on who you ask," Ausmus said when asked if he was a walking medical miracle. "They say it's a three-month recovery, so it's been about three months. I think they were stretching it a little for me because of my age compared to someone who's 24."

Ausmus arrived in the Dodgers clubhouse Monday after catching nine innings for Triple-A Albuquerque the night before. He was 8-for-20 in eight rehab games, four with Albuquerque and four with Class A Inland Empire.

"No residual effects the next day," Ausmus said. "I felt good. The first two games, my at-bats felt out of whack but it seemed to come around pretty quickly."

Carrying Ausmus gave the Dodgers three catchers for Tuesday night, but A.J. Ellis will likely be sent down Wednesday or Thursday for an outfielder to take Ramirez's spot until Reed Johnson can return from injury. Ausmus went 1-for-4 with a double in his only game played this season. He's a career .252 hitter.

Piniella's decison won't affect Torre's future

LOS ANGELES -- Two days after his 70th birthday prompted questions about Joe Torre's managing future, Tuesday's announcement that the Cubs' Lou Pinieilla would be retiring at the end of the season prompted a greater inquisition into the Dodgers skipper's future.

"If we keep losing, it may not be my choice," Torre said. "The fact of the matter is, when I say I'm 70 years old, I still have the energy to do this. If I decide not to do this, if it's still my choice, it's not going to be how old I am. It's going to be the fact that I would rather be here and go to my daughter's softball game. Stuff like that is more glaring to me now than it's been in the past."

As for Piniella, Torre had an inkling when the Cubs were in town July 8 to 11. But he's not so sure the 67-year-old is done for good.

"Well, I talked to Lou when he was here, and he sort of hinted at that," Torre said. "Again, Lou is an emotional guy and I know he's been frustrated because you know they reached the postseason and you know it just looked like they were going to do that on a regular basis, but for one reason or another, something kept getting in the way. So to me -- I know he means it -- I'm not necessarily sold on it. He means it for now, because as I say, he's emotional, he's passionate about what he does, he still loves the game, he certainly doesn't need the game."

Would Torre himself consider taking over one of baseball's historically rich franchises, the Cubs?

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do; let's leave it at that," he said. "Again, I'm not of a mind at this point in time to think I'm going to be doing this anywhere else."