LOS ANGELES -- When Matt Kemp returns to center field and Tony Gwynn returns to the bench, Don Mattingly's leadoff dilemma returns, too.
The hope coming into the season was Dee Gordon would disrupt opposing pitchers with his running speed, but Gordon struggled to bat .200, was benched, and now has returned in the No. 8 spot and is showing signs of life with his bat.
But that doesn't mean Mattingly is ready to return Gordon to the pressure spot.
"We still need to find a guy at the top when Matt comes back," Mattingly said. "We have choices."
The first name Mattingly mentioned Saturday was Elian Herrera, a nine-year Minor Leaguer who has become the primary second baseman with the left leg injury to Mark Ellis, who is not expected back for two months. Other names floated for leadoff include Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston.
"Elian has been swinging the bat good," Mattingly said. "We've gotten a little [contribution] from everybody [called in as injury replacements]. He's been the most consistent. He plays second, third and center. His swing is decent from both sides of the plate. He's got speed and shows awareness. He's been solid."
Herrera is batting .355 overall, .333 right-handed and .368 left-handed. He has an on-base percentage of .394. Abreu's on-base percentage is .435 and Hairston's is .409. Gordon's is .250.
Mattingly said Casey Blake is a "great comparison" to Herrera, because Blake also spent the better part of a decade in the Minor Leagues before finally breaking through.
"They got a ton of baseball drills, and Herrera played winter ball, too," said Mattingly. "He's kind of a veteran rookie, older, more mature, and he appreciates where he's at because he had to fight his way here."
Hairston receives apology from umpire
LOS ANGELES -- When Jerry Hairston reached home plate for his first-inning at-bat Friday night, he received an apology from umpire Tim Welke.
It was the first meeting of the pair since a May 2 game in Colorado where Welke incorrectly called Hairston out at first base on a play ridiculed nationwide, as Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had come three feet off first base to take a throw from third baseman Chris Nelson.
"He said he was sorry," Hairston said. "He's been a really good umpire for a long time and, you know what, obviously because of the angle he didn't see it. It's over and done with. But I told him if I get stuck on 2,999 [hits], I'm calling him. He got a kick out of that."
It was Welke who did the kicking after that play, ejecting Dodgers manager Don Mattingly for arguing the obviously mistaken call, along with the fact that Welke did not ask for or receive help from any of his umpire crewmates. Hairston said the apology showed him what he already knew about Welke.
"It shows character, but he always had the highest character," Hairston said. "I've been dealing with him for 14 years. People lose sight of the fact that one play doesn't change that. It's amazing, we as players make errors and, obviously, umpires do too. It's the human element of the game.
"People don't realize how fast the game moves. Everybody else has the benefit of watching the replay on TV. The umpires don't have that. It was just one of those freaky plays."
Kemp, Rivera set for two-game rehab trip
LOS ANGELES -- Disabled Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera head out for two-game Minor League rehab assignments with Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday.
Both are expected to return to Los Angeles on Tuesday, when the Isotopes go on the road. Kemp is expected to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday night's game, while Rivera likely will require additional games at Class A Rancho Cucamonga before his swing is ready. Both players have been out with strained left hamstrings, but Rivera has been sidelined longer.
"You know it's on the horizon to get guys back," said manager Don Mattingly. "We'll get one, and a couple days after that we'll get another guy back. But it's tough coming back. Jerry [Hairston, who returned Friday night] is back, but you know it takes a couple days to get the rhythm back. It's hard to say Matt will come off and be on fire again."
Kemp's injury snapped his streak of consecutive games played at 399. Mattingly said he expects Kemp to be completely healthy when activated, but he also plans to slip in occasional days off to keep him that way.
"It will probably be easier to give him a break because there's not a streak involved," Mattingly said. "He won't want to come out of the lineup. He doesn't like watching. But it makes it easier to give him a day. I can always pull the manager card."
Disabled third baseman Juan Uribe had his resumption of hitting delayed because of continued soreness in his arthritic left wrist. He's been out since May 14 and is doing everything but hitting.
Dodgers could call up Eovaldi from Double-A
LOS ANGELES -- Double-A Chattanooga pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was scratched from a start Saturday night and instead made a one-inning relief appearance, fueling speculation that he's about to be called up to the Dodgers.
Manager Don Mattingly was noncommittal when asked about Eovaldi after the Dodgers' win Saturday night over the Astros.
"Not ready to talk about it," he said.
Eovaldi has pitched in relief earlier this year, part of a planned innings reduction the Dodgers give all of their young starters.
But this one-inning appearance -- Eovaldi struck out all three batters he faced -- was a late change and could serve the purpose of a between-starts bullpen session, putting him on track to make a start Tuesday, when Ted Lilly is scheduled to start for the Dodgers against Milwaukee.
Lilly is coming off his worst start and first loss of the year, when he allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in Arizona. Lilly opened the season on the disabled list because of a chronic neck problem.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.