Daily Distractions: A.J. Ellis to miss 4 to 6 weeks following arthroscopic surgery.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis underwent a 20-minute arthroscopic procedure, performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, to debride (clean up) the medial meniscus of his left knee. According to the team, he will start his rehabilitation tomorrow and recovery is expected in 4-6 weeks.

Catcher Tim Federowicz, who wasn’t in the Albuquerque Isotopes starting lineup Monday or today, is expected to be recalled from the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in time for tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

On Oct. 5, 2012, ElAttrache performed a 30-minute clean up procedure on Ellis’ medial and lateral meniscus.

Ellis is already recovering and receiving top medical care:

Some bullet points for a Draw a Bird Day:
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Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (torn meniscus) to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

A.J. EllisThe Dodgers will be without starting catcher A.J. Ellis this week and beyond.

Ellis has a torn meniscus in his left knee and will undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, the team announced. The team is expected to announce a timetable for recovery, as well as a corresponding roster move, after the procedure.

In October 2012, Ellis had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee after playing 133 games in his first major-league season as the Dodgers’ starting catcher.

Ellis, who turns 33 in two days, was batting .167 (4 for 24) with four walks in seven games this season. Last year, Ellis played 115 games and batted .238/.318/.364. He was a finalist for the National League Gold Glove award.

Drew Butera started in Ellis’ place in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, but the Dodgers did not announce the injury at the time. The team had a day off Monday.

There are only three catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster: Ellis, Butera and Tim Federowicz, who served as Ellis’ backup last season.

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Daily Distractions: Why Sunday’s sixth inning encouraged Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez made outs in the sixth inning Sunday, but impressed Don Mattingly in the process. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers hit four home runs Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, but that’s not what had Don Mattingly excited.

Hanley Ramirez can hit home runs. That’s no revelation. Even Matt Kemp, Mattingly said, had his power swing on display from the time he reported to camp, with his high follow-through leaving many pitching machines in Glendale, Arizona with stratospheric ERAs.

No, what had Mattingly excited was the sixth inning.

Ramirez led off with a double into the left-field corner. Adrian Gonzalez was next up, and he hit a ground ball directly into the Giants’ shift. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Matt Cain covering first base for the out. That didn’t matter to Mattingly, because Ramirez advanced to third base, then scored on a deeply hit sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

“That was a big run for us,” Mattingly said. “They cut it to 4-2 with a couple homers there. Hanley starts the inning with a double, Adrian gets him over with the ground ball, Andre gets him in. Sometimes last year we didn’t get that done very well. I was encouraged by that tonight.”

Indeed, the biggest complaint about the Dodgers’ offense for the first six weeks of 2013 was its lack of situational hitting. On June 14, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500 and averaging 3.5 runs per game. From June 15 on, they averaged 4.3 runs per game. The arrivals of Yasiel Puig and Ramirez were integral. They added two dimensions the offense lacked, speed and power. More importantly, they didn’t make as many outs as the men they replaced. By extension, the Dodgers had more runners on base and had more success moving them over. Their situational hitting improved.

The Dodgers might never have another inning like the sixth this season. But if it becomes a trend, that’s one less way a lineup full of superstars can fail to score.

Some bullet points for an International Beaver Day:
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Dodgers acquire Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians, designate Mike Baxter for assignment.

Mike Baxter

The Dodgers designated outfielder Mike Baxter for assignment in order to make room for left-handed reliever Colt Hynes on the 40-man roster. (Getty Images)

In a move designed to add depth to their left-handed relief corps, the Dodgers acquired left-hander Colt Hynes from the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Duke von Schamann on Sunday.

Hynes, 28, was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque. To make room for Hynes on the 40-man roster, outfielder Mike Baxter was designated for assignment.

Baxter appeared in parts of four games with the Dodgers, going 0-for-7 with a walk, before being optioned to Albuquerque to make room for Matt Kemp on the active roster.
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Dodgers’ Josh Beckett throws bullpen session, on track to make his 2014 debut Wednesday.

Josh Beckett

Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett threw a bullpen session Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

Josh Beckett is on track to make his 2014 debut Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers after throwing a normal bullpen session Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The veteran right-hander has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb contusion since the season began. He suffered the injury in spring training when the clubhouse door swung open and hit his thumb.

The thumb wasn’t an issue when Beckett threw four-plus innings in a minor-league rehab start Friday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, but he aggravated something in his right calf/ankle area.

On Sunday, Beckett threw for about 15 minutes with head athletic trainer Stan Conte watching.

“It was better than yesterday,” he said.

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Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig will undergo MRI exam on his left thumb.

Yasiel Puig received an MRI exam on his left thumb Sunday and could miss tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants.

Puig told reporters Saturday night that x-rays on the thumb were negative, but it was “pretty swollen” Sunday morning in the words of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Puig sustained the injury sliding head-first into second base during the a loss to the Giants yesteday. In a best-case scenario, Mattingly said that Puig might be able to pinch-hit during the series finale tonight. He compared the injury to the left thumb contusion that Puig sustained in August of last season, an injury that forced the right fielder to miss one game.

At worst, Mattingly was hopeful that Puig could return Tuesday. The Dodgers have a day off tomorrow.

“We don’t expect it to be anything major,” Mattingly said.
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ starting rotation looks good. So does every team’s.

Aaron Harang

Former Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang, now with the Atlanta Braves, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Wednesday. So did his opponent, Matt Garza. (Associated Press photo)

I’m going to get off the topic of my fantasy baseball team quickly, promise. Just bear with me for a second.

Something strange happened this week. The first time through my rotation, my five starters gave up a total of one run. The one run belonged to Jose Fernandez (otherwise the miscreant might be booted from my rotation).

Across the majors, in the few games that have been played, pitching has been good so far. Very good. The league-average ERA is 3.31.

To some extent, that makes sense. Pitchers’ arms are healthier now than they will be in September. Some teams have only played two games, meaning they have used only their top two starters — and seen their opponents’ top two. The best pitchers in the world, all those Opening Day starters including Clayton Kershaw, have all pitched once.

The Dodgers aren’t immune to the phenomenon. Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren have allowed a total of three runs in the club’s first five games. That’s encouraging. They will need more encouragement from starters five and six, Paul Maholm and Josh Beckett, while Kershaw rests his bad back. Maholm starts Saturday against the San Francisco Giants.

It’s easy to dismiss the dominance of pitchers, but we might be witnessing the makings of a trend. This season could be a down year for hitting. While they’ve pitched well, the Dodgers are collectively hitting .229. Want to guess where that ranks among the 30 teams? Fourteenth. Sixteen clubs have batted .223 or worse in the early part of the season.

Those numbers will get better, but you wonder when we’ll see the first no-hitter of the season. It might not be long. Former Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang lost one in the seventh inning of the Braves’ 1-0 win over Milwaukee last night. So did his opponent, Matt Garza. Harang and Garza aren’t elite pitchers anymore, but they were elite Wednesday.

Let’s see if this trend continues.

Some bullet points for a Tweed Day:
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Dodgers place Brian Wilson on the disabled list, Jose Dominguez up for series finale in San Diego.

Brian Wilson

Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson faced five batters without recording an out Sunday in San Diego. On Wednesday, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow ulnar nerve inflammation. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Jose Dominguez was back in the Dodgers’ clubhouse Wednesday, making it safe to say a trend has emerged.

Five games into the season, the Dodgers haven’t had the same 25-man roster for more than two games in a row.

Brian Wilson was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 31, with right elbow ulnar nerve inflammation. Dominguez was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he did not make an appearance, and is available for tonight’s game at 7 p.m. Dominguez allowed three runs in one-third of an inning March 23 in Sydney, Australia.

Dominguez was optioned to Albuquerque during the seven-day downtime that followed. Clayton Kershaw was placed on the 15-day disabled list. With Kershaw out and Josh Beckett expected to make a rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga, the rotation for this weekend’s series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium became official.

Hyun-Jin Ryu starts Friday against Ryan Vogelsong, Paul Maholm starts Saturday against Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke starts Sunday against Matt Cain.

Looking a couple days ahead: The Dodgers announced that tickets are still available for Friday’s game at Dodger Stadium with the purchase of a 30-game miniplan. Of course, the secondary ticket marketplace is rife with single-game ticket options (see here, here, here and here). The public address announcer will be a familiar voice: Ross Porter, who spent 28 years as a Dodgers broadcaster beginning in 1977.

Here are the lineups for both teams for the rubber match of the three-game series at Petco Park:
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