Mientkiewicz Appears Ready for Stretch Drive

With clubs scurrying around in an attempt to strengthen their teams for the final weeks of the season, the Dodgers seem to be a sure bet to add a veteran left-handed bat off the bench before the July 31 trade deadline, and they won't have to lose prospect to get him. Doug Mientkiewicz first reported over his Twitter account that he could be just a few weeks from rejoining the Dodgers roster.

The first baseman, who has been out since April 17 with a dislocated right shoulder, later confirmed in an interview that although his original ETA was to be September or October, he could rejoin the club in another week or so.

Mientkiewicz, who already been taking regular batting practice, has left to work out at the Dodgers' spring-training complex at Camelback Park in Glendale, Ariz. He will return to Los Angeles for a medical evaluation before leaving for a rehab assignment at Albuquerque as early a the first of the week.

The veteran, who had surgery April 20, said, "I respected their time period but I didn't believe them. I'm not saying I'm the Bionic Man, but with trainer Stan Conte cutting every corner he could to take chances when we could, we've been aggressively smart with this thing. Knock on wood, we haven't had any setbacks."

Mientkiewicz feels he will be activated from the 60-day disabled list Aug. 4 during the Dodgers' three-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mientkiewicz the act of hitting is no problem for him but that he needs become comfortable with throwing. Manager Joe Torre said that before he could be activated, he must be able to play an inning or two on defense.

"Joe told me, 'until you can play defense and double switch, I can't have you back here,'" Mientkiewicz said.

He played in just seven games before he hurt his shoulder sliding into a base, collecting two hits in five at-bats.

This 'n That
Jason Schmidt said he felt fine after his first action in two years and while the talk has been that he would start Sunday, that decision is not final.

With Thursday off, the Dodgers didn't need a fifth starter until Tuesday at St. Louis, but perhaps Torre doesn't want to wait that long to get Schmidt back on the mound.

"I'm under the assumption that we'll send him out there again," Torre said. "I don't think we're going to skip anybody with the off day. We haven't totally made that decision but that's what we're leaning toward, especially this time of the year without many off days coming up."

Swap Meet -- The Dodgers, while still in the Roy Halladay scrum, realize that it will take four players (at least) to land the pitcher and are not willing to break up their lineup to make the deal. They are seemingly more likely to add relief pitcher and are also in the mix for Baltimore's George Sherrill or former Dodgers Joe Beimel and Jason Frasor. Seattle's lefthander Jerrod Washburn could wind up in Chavez Ravine, depending on how the Halladay sweepstakes play out.

Sick List-- Hong Chih-Kuo pitched for Inland Empire again Tuesday, working consecutive nights for the first time on his rehab assignment. He is expected to get two pitch tonight and if he comes out of that with no setbacks, he will return to the major-league roster next week. ...Relievers Ronald Belisario and Cory Wade threw bullpen sessions. They are expected to start rehabilitation assignments in the minor leagues next week.

Player Moves-- The Red Sox traded former Dodgers infielder SS Julio Lugo to the Cardinals for LF Chris Duncan and a player to be named later. And the Minnesota Twins signed former Dodgers shortstop Mark Grudzielanek.

For Your Information-- Derek Jeter joined Steve Garvey and Joe Morgan as the only players to play for at least nine All-Star Teams and never lose. Jeter's record is 9-0-1. Garvey was 10-0 and Morgan 9-0.  

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