LOS ANGELES -- Two weeks after shoulder surgery, Dodgers pitcher Jon Garland was upbeat Monday about his recovery and career future.

"I'm excited," said Garland, sporting four arthroscopic incisions after Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed a debridement of the labrum and bursa and cleaned up and reinforced the rotator cuff.

Garland was told he could start throwing after three months and resume competition in six months. He said he would probably delay the start of that timetable by one extra month, which would put him on target to be ready for the start of Spring Training.

Although the workhorse right-hander has 2,083 1/3 innings in 12 seasons, he's only 31, and now that his shoulder has been cleaned out and tuned up without requiring anything radical, he expects to be pitching next year.

The Dodgers will pay Garland a $500,000 buyout rather than pick up an $8 million option for 2012, and he will be a free agent.

"I was very satisfied with what the doctor said," Garland said. "He's upbeat. The labrum was almost pristine. The cuff was a little worse than he thought, but a lot of what he found was just scar tissue and bursitis. He shaved down the bone so things move smoothly. A layoff like this can only help the rest of my body."

He had his arm in a sling for five days and his early rehab has centered on range of motion exercise with no resistance.

"If there's a difference at this point," he said, "it's that with everything cleaned out, it feels a lot freer with more room in there. I'll know more when I'm able to lift my arm above my head."

Dodgers cautious with Uribe's abdomen strain

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly set out Juan Uribe's role for right away in his meeting with reporters before Monday's game against the Rockies.

"Available in some role, some fashion," Mattingly said of his third baseman, who was out of the lineup for the second straight day with an injury to his lower left abdomen.

Mattingly said Uribe felt better Monday than he had a day earlier, but wasn't feeling healthy enough to warrant a start.

Asked if he might avoid using Uribe as a pinch-hitter in Monday's game because it would set the team back a couple days if it is eventually forced to put him on the disabled list, Mattingly skirted the question, saying Uribe will be resigned to "definitely limited use."

Mattingly sounded optimistic for a possible return Tuesday, but he had also sounded optimistic Sunday.

"We hoped he had needed a day to let it calm down," Mattingly said. "Now hopefully it's two."

Stickler for defense, Navarro seeing more time

LOS ANGELES -- There's one stat most sabermetricians ignore that Dioner Navarro is well aware of: catcher shutouts. He's got six this season.

That's a stat the Dodgers catcher takes more pride in than any number he could put up at the plate.

"I'd rather go 0-for-4 with a shutout and win, 1-0, than 4-for-4 with five RBIs and lose, 12-10," Navaro said. "I'm here because of my defense, there's no question."

That defense has earned Navarro more time recently. Manager Don Mattingly has chosen to start him in consecutive games, and Tuesday he'll likely catch Clayton Kershaw, whose last six starts he has been behind the plate for.

Mattingly said Navarro's recent increase in playing time has a lot to do with Rod Barajas' poor numbers against righties. Neither catcher has done much at the plate this season, both hovering around .200 with Navarro providing a bit more power.

Navarro said the increase in playing time has allowed him to find a small groove at the plate. He had a six-game hitting streak before going 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday, and he's hitting .333 in his last seven games. Still, he'd prefer to compare his job to a goalie in soccer.

"If nobody scores any runs I did a pretty good job," Navarro said. "[Soccer goalies] have got one job. Their job is to protect the net. Well, my job is to protect the plate."

That phrase is more figurative than literal. Protecting the plate, to Navarro, means hours of studying opposing hitters and time devoted to understanding his pitchers' strengths and weaknesses.

Mattingly has certainly taken note, acknowledging managing all the aspects of catching is no easy task, and one that is never complete.

"He's been good," Mattingly said. "I'd like him to keep getting better. Taking more charge of what he studies and knowing where he goes in every situation and understanding these pitchers. It's a lot of work."