SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez, on the disabled list with a strained calf, is making progress healing in Arizona and will be re-evaluated in Los Angeles next week.
"He's doing well," manager Joe Torre said. "Chances are we won't see him until the middle of the week, but he seems to be doing well. He's working and his leg woes are disappearing. Stan [Conte, athletic trainer] told me everything is going forward."
Responding to a question, Torre rejected the notion that Ramirez is in no hurry to return. He has been on the disabled list three times this season with right leg injuries, this time since July 17.
"Manny wants to play, in my opinion, beyond this year," said Torre, who spoke to Ramirez about his goals during the offseason. "This is the last year of his contract and it doesn't make sense for him to not want to play from a practical aspect."
Ramirez has been working out this week at the club's Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex in Arizona. Torre said he didn't know when Ramirez would be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment.
Outfielder Reed Johnson, on the disabled list with back spasms, said he passed a jogging test and is hopeful he can begin a Minor League rehab assignment next week.
Dodgers continue work on possible deals
SAN FRANCISCO -- While the Dodgers continue trade talks for, among others, starting pitchers Ted Lilly of the Cubs and Paul Maholm of the Pirates, there's also the chance Saturday's Trade Deadline could come and go without a deal."You know what? A lot of times it's not easy to do," said manager Joe Torre, backpedalling a bit from comments earlier in the week that he believed pitching help was on the way. "Clubs have players and try to get more than they should get and I'm not talking about payroll, but player-wise. They have a player at a certain position and try to hold you up a little bit." General manager Ned Colletti and his aides were in Los Angeles for the final hours leading to Saturday's 1 p.m. PT Deadline. The Dodgers were likely wrestling with the dilemma of giving up money and players while the team is slumping and seven games out of first place.
"I know we're still talking," said Torre. "Ned's not here for a reason. I think there's a chance we'll get something done. Sometimes you can help yourself after [the Deadline). The most important thing -- with [Roy] Oswalt and [Dan] Haren gone -- is to try to make the team better. Do we need to have a big-name guy? Not to say you wouldn't want one, but you might make yourself better with another piece."If that's lowering expectations, maybe the Dodgers will settle for a durable middle reliever. With the Dodgers in a dreadful offensive slump, Torre even left the door open for the addition of another hitter two days after the Dodgers acquired Scott Podsednik from Kansas City. "We've talked to a number of teams and pitching still is first, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be more than that," Torre said. "Which position? I'm not going there. A hitter." Among the many rumors floated Friday was that the Cubs would include infielder Ryan Theriot in a Lilly trade, according to Fox Sports. Torre said he thinks the club has the capability of adding salary to make a trade. Lilly, 3-8 with a 3.69 ERA, is due $4 million more in salary this year, then will be a free agent. Maholm, who is 6-9 with a 4.52 ERA, is owned $2 million more from a $4.5 million salary this season, will make $5.75 million next year and has a $9.75 million club option with a $750,000 buyout for 2012.
Billingsley undaunted by short rest
SAN FRANCISCO -- Considering what he went through as a high school workhorse, Chad Billingsley is amused at the fuss being made over his start Saturday on three days' rest.
"My junior year in high school we made the regionals and I started the semifinals and pitched seven innings, allowed one hit in a night game with about 100 pitches," said Billingsley. "The next day I started in right field but our pitcher got into a jam in the first inning and they brought me in with the bases loaded and got out of the jam and went back to the outfield.
"Two innings later, they brought me back in to pitch and I finished up the last four innings. After that, I was tired."
Billingsley said he once made 180 pitches in a high school start. He made 84 Tuesday in six scoreless innings in San Diego. He said he doesn't believe the quick return will be a problem.
"The only change in my routine is that I usually lift twice between starts and this time I'll do it only once," he said Friday. "Or maybe today I'll do a light lift. The week seems to have gone by faster. I'm not worried. My arm feels good. If I had needed an extra day, I wouldn't have gone in and offered to pitch. If my body and arm weren't able to do it, I wouldn't do it."
Billingsley is 5-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 17 games against the Giants, including a shutout July 21.
Torre not panicking over slumping offense
SAN FRANCISCO -- Joe Torre was asked if he told his slumping Dodgers club anything special before batting practice Friday.
"We need to hit, we need to hit, we need to hit," he said.
"We've scored 14 runs in eight games. We need to hit more. We're capable of hitting better than we're hitting."
Torre said the Dodgers held their typical pre-series meeting, but there was no fire and brimstone, no special meeting because the offense has disappeared.
"Everybody in that room has had success," he said. "This sport is unique. We don't have down time to regroup like sports that don't play every day. We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. We're counting on each other and not doing a good job right now."
After losing two of three in San Diego, the Dodgers trail the Padres by seven games starting play Friday night with a three-game series against the Giants and four games in Los Angeles against the Padres.
"Right now, we're flat," he said. "The guys are aware of it. They're trying to think too much. They need to rely and trust their ability. This is something you go through and it just happens to coincide with the Trading Deadline. We need to keep our composure. There should be a sense of urgency, but far from panic."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.