PHOENIX — Hideo Nomo has remained optimistic during one of the most difficult periods in his successful career.
The right-hander has worked hard in a throwing-and-exercise program, hoping to return to the Dodger rotation this season. Still in the early stages of the program, Nomo said Sunday he did not know when he would face batters or make a rehabilitation start.
The Dodgers won't activate Nomo from the disabled list unless he displays much more velocity than he did in going 3-10 with an 8.06 earned-run average in 14 starts. The nine-year veteran still wants to help, but his pitching shoulder hasn't cooperated.
"I would like to play now, if possible; I would like to help the team win," Nomo said through an interpreter. "I just enjoy pitching and I want to help my teammates, but at the same time, I don't want to be the one to pull down the team. If I am going to come back this season, I feel I have to be at 100%. I feel I owe that to my teammates."
Nomo went on the disabled list July 1 because of inflammation of his right rotator cuff. The right-hander went 0-9 with an 8.80 ERA in his last 10 starts, and his fastball was consistently clocked in the low 80s from the windup.
The Dodgers hope the 35-year-old former ace, who underwent shoulder surgery in October, regains enough velocity to prompt them to give him another shot. Nomo is among the most respected players in the clubhouse because of his heart and eagerness to pitch in big games.
"The thing about Hideo is he always wants the ball in a big game," catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "With the amount of big games we could have here in the second half, it would be huge if he could get his arm strength back."
Nomo hopes to be that type of pitcher again soon.
"I'm happy that my teammates say those things about me, but all of those things are things of the past," he said. "This season, I haven't been that good. The next time I step on the mound, I would like to earn their trust again."
Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had been held out of the lineup because of a right thigh injury, started for the first time in seven games Sunday against Arizona.
Beltre had two hits, including his team-leading 23rd home run, and two runs batted in during a 10-3 victory.
"It was frustrating," said Beltre, batting .322 and also leading the Dodgers with 59 RBIs. "I enjoy playing, especially with the way these guys are playing right now, and I want to be part of it. It was my first start in a while and it felt good."
After entering as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning Saturday, Beltre singled, doubled and drove in the first run in the Dodgers' three-run ninth inning as they rallied for a 7-6 win.
"With the season this guy is having," Manager Jim Tracy said, "you don't [keep him on the bench] unless it's a definite disabled-list situation."
It appears reliever Paul Shuey, who underwent hip surgery in the off-season, might be sidelined for the remainder of the season because of hip pain.
Shuey was scheduled to meet Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with Dr. Marc Philipon, who performed the procedure, and rejoin the team today in Houston.
Opponent -- Houston Astros, two games.
Site -- Minute Maid Park.
TV -- Fox Sports Net 2 tonight and Tuesday.
Radio -- KFWB (980), KWKW (1330).
Records -- Dodgers 52-38, Houston 45-46.
Record vs. Houston -- 3-1.
Tonight, 5 PDT -- Wilson Alvarez (4-3, 3.51 ERA) vs. Brandon Duckworth (1-2, 7.53).
Tuesday, 5 p.m. -- Jeff Weaver (6-9, 4.25) vs. Pete Munro (1-2, 4.45).