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DODGERS FYI

Dodgers' Juan Rivera is close to return

Rivera is optimistic he will be able to play this weekend against Colorado, which will make left field crowded.

May 29, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Matt Kemp was activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Juan Rivera shouldn't be far behind.

"Two, three more days," Rivera said.

The Dodgers' opening-day left fielder, Rivera played alongside Kemp on a two-game rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday and Monday.

Rivera rested Tuesday and was expected to resume playing with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga the next day. He said he is optimistic that he will be able to play in the Dodgers' upcoming series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, which starts Friday.

Rivera is recovering from a torn tendon in his left hamstring. At the time of his injury, he faced the possibility of surgery.

To avoid a potential operation, Rivera stretched frequently. He received treatment not only at the ballpark during the day, but also in his house at night.

"When I got hurt, I told myself that I wanted to be back in less than two months," he said.

It appears he'll be back in less than four weeks. Rivera was put on the disabled list on May 9.

Rivera said he felt comfortable running in Albuquerque. He once ran from first base to third. He also ran down a fly ball near the left-field foul line.

"I felt good," he said.

However, he acknowledged that he felt rusty at the plate.

"I didn't see the ball well the first day," he said. "But I felt more comfortable the second day."

Roster and lineup in flux

The Dodgers sent outfielder Jerry Sands to Albuquerque to make room on the active roster for Kemp. Scott Van Slyke is expected to follow Sands when Rivera is ready to return.

Rivera's return will crowd the outfield.

With Kemp set in center field and Andre Ethier in right, Manager Don Mattingly will have to split playing time in left among Rivera, Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr.

Abreu went into Tuesday batting .339 in 22 games with the Dodgers. Gwynn played center field in Kemp's absence and took over the leadoff spot when Dee Gordon was dropped to the eighth spot.

On days Gwynn doesn't play, Mattingly will have to find a new leadoff hitter. Potential candidates include second baseman Elian Herrera and third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.

Short hops

The Dodgers released images of the Vin Scully bobblehead doll they will give away to the first 50,000 fans on Aug. 30. Tickets for the game will not be sold individually and are available to the public only as part of season-ticket or 10-game packages. … Juan Uribe reported improvement in his injured wrist. He is expected to take batting practice on the field Wednesday. … Hairston turned 36 Tuesday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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