Scott Elbert throws a scoreless inning for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Dodgers pitcher Scott Elbert threw a 10-pitch scoreless inning Friday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The left-hander induced an infield popout, a groundout and a flyout to center field against the Lancaster JetHawks.

It was the seventh minor-league game Elbert has appeared in since his rehabilitation began June 18. Elbert began the season on the 60-day disabled list as he attempts to return from Tommy John surgery last year.

Scott Elbert is ‘on the move and feeling good,’ Onelki Garcia not so much.

Remember Scott Elbert?

Left-handed pitcher. Had Tommy John surgery in June of last year. Had his appendix removed earlier this year. Stuck in extended spring training ever since, out of sight and out of mind.

Scott Elbert threw two bullpen sessions in extended spring training recently and hasn’t had any setbacks since, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. His fastball, which has averaged 92.1 mph in 120 career games, touched 90 mph on the radar gun during a recent live batting practice session.

“Scottie’s on the move and feeling good,” Mattingly said.

Could a minor-league rehab outing be next?

“I would think that he’s heading that way,” Mattingly said. “There’s been no talk about it. I think he’s a little bit behind Bills.”

Billingsley said Sunday that he could make five rehab starts, starting Saturday, before returning to the majors.

The news wasn’t as good on Onelki Garcia, another left-handed pitcher taking up space on the Dodgers’ 60-day disabled list.

Garcia underwent a procedure last November to remove bone spurs from his left elbow, and another in February to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

Of Garcia, Mattingly reported “a lot of setbacks, one after the other.”

Reports: Dodgers to re-sign J.P. Howell for two years, $11.25 million, plus option.

J.P. HowellJ.P. Howell will return to the Dodgers for at least two years, according to multiple reports Monday, with the two sides compromising on a third-year option that would pay Howell more than any left-handed reliever on the market this year.

The contract reportedly guarantees Howell $11.25 million through 2015. The third-year option, worth $6.25 million, vests if he makes 120 appearances over the next two seasons. It’s a realistic benchmark for Howell, who appeared in 67 games in 2013, going 4-1 with a 2.18 earned-run average.

In total, the 30-year-old has the potential to earn $17.5 million over the life of the contract – $1 million more than the Rockies gave lefty specialist Boone Logan over the next three years.

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Daily Distractions: Tender deadline looms at 9 p.m. tonight.

Ronald Belisario

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (left) and pitcher Ronald Belisario (right) are both arbitration eligible. (Associated Press photo)

By 9 p.m. tonight, A.J. Ellis, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen will have been tendered a contract by the Dodgers. That much we know. The deadline for teams to tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players is fast approaching, and the Dodgers won’t leave Kershaw, Ellis and Jansen behind.

We don’t know how much the Dodgers will offer each player, how much they’ll ultimately sign for, or if Ronald Belisario — the final remaining member of the Dodgers’ arbitration-eligible class — will get an offer at all. MLBtraderumors.com made some predictions here.

So far, the Dodgers have only dipped into the free-agent market for a starting pitcher, Dan Haren. But they had enough interest in adding a right-handed reliever that they were among the first teams to offer a contract to Joe Smith. Smith ultimately signed a three-year, $15.75 million contract with the Angels.

Did the Dodgers hope to replace Belisario with Smith, a sinker/slider pitcher who rarely exceeds 90 mph on the radar gun? Or do they still see a need for a power arm to complement Brandon League, Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez, and any other right-handers who might be in the mix for 2014?

Belisario’s lousy September (7.94 ERA, .842 opponents’ OPS) obscured what was previously a solid year. Statistically speaking, the Dodgers had one of the National League’s better bullpens in 2013. Bringing back everyone, or attempting to, isn’t out of the question.

Three other arbitration-eligible Dodgers already agreed to contracts for 2014. Scott Elbert signed for $575,000 for 2014 with up to another $100,000 in possible incentives on the table. Drew Butera and Mike Baxter both signed for $700,000.

That’s three down, three (or four) to go.

Some bullet points for a Laotian National Day:
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Daily Distractions: Persisting in the argument against Juan Uribe’s evil ninth-inning bunt.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp swings and misses at Brad Ziegler’s final pitch in the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday. (Associated Press photo)

Last night in my postgame thoughts I didn’t delve too much into the first out of the ninth inning. (Neither did columnist Tom Hoffarth in Phoenix.) Speaking for myself, it was reasonable to assume the first out of the ninth inning would get the attention it deserved elsewhere.

It did.

The first out, you may recall, was recorded at third base. Juan Uribe was ordered to lay down a sacrifice bunt attempt and pushed the ball just a little too hard, enough to result in lead runner Michael Young getting gunned down by the Diamondbacks’ infield while a frustrated Uribe touched first base safely.

Dodgers manager Don “Mattingly … voluntarily hobbled the Dodgers by ordering hot hand Juan Uribe to sacrifice with runners on first and second and nobody out,” wrote Jay Jaffe at SI.com.

“Makes perfect sense if you’re into age-old rationales, and even if you’re not, it just might have worked if Uribe WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY GOTTEN THE JOB DONE,” wrote Tony Jackson (among his many less-than-flattering odes to the sacrifice bunt).

But if you read anything this morning about the bunt and its history, and why there’s such a loud furor over Mattingly’s decision, head over to BuzzFeed (and just try to resist the allure of “18 Animals Who Got the Last Laugh”). The age-old anti-bunting argument, presented by author Erik Malinowski, can be summed up in two points:

1, Baseball history — we’re talking a huge sample size here — shows that trading an out for 90 feet decreases a team’s odds of scoring a run.

2, Executing the bunt strategy usually requires a fast runner, a skilled bunter and another hit after the bunt (a sacrifice fly or an opponent’s error would have worked in this particular case, too). The Dodgers had none of these in the ninth inning Monday.

The argument is about as old as me — born in the early 1980s — so to convince bunting advocates against their position in 2013 reeks of dragging tobacco executives before the House of Representatives in 1994. I don’t have the power to levy a bunting tax, though I do have the power to point out its illogic. That doesn’t seem to be enough.

So what would convince Mattingly and the Dodgers to stop bunting at this point?

Malinowski hints — and recent history suggests — that it might simply require some more progressive thinking in the Dodgers’ front office, and some people who can present the data in a convincing manner. A little desperation would help, too.

Take the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, for example. They had an old-school manager (Clint Hurdle) and a fairly desperate circumstance. Their payroll was maxed out. They were competing in a tough division. And they were giving away outs — not by bunting, but in the way they played defense. So with the help of a few progressive front-office officials, the Pirates turned a little conventional baseball wisdom on its head and changed the way they played defense. It’s been an important factor in their success this season.

If the Pirates can do it, maybe the Dodgers can turn some (quasi-conventional) baseball wisdom on its head and change the way they advance runners. It will take desperation and progressive thinking.

Some bullet points for a Roberto Clemente Day:
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Daily Distractions: The significance of 2-2.

Adrian Gonzalez

The Dodgers are 38-8 in their last 46 games and need to win two of their next four to join an elite group of major-league teams. (Associated Press)

In his seminal 2000 book “The Tipping Point,” author Malcolm Gladwell identified a handful of small phenomena that predict wider epidemics. The Dodgers’ next four games could be one of those small phenomena.

If that seems a bit arbitrary, it is. Play along for a minute anyway.

On SportsIllustrated.com, Jay Jaffe tracked down the 16 major-league teams that have won at least 40 games over a 50-game stretch. Of the 16 teams, 15 reached the postseason and 13 reached the World Series. Two of the 40-win teams reached the World Series after divisional expansion in 1969: the 1998 Yankees and the 1975 Reds. (The 1977 Royals and 2001 Mariners did not.)

Now I don’t know if the 1912 New York Giants, whose 43-7 mark set the 50-game standard, could survive three rounds of playoffs and still win a World Series. I also don’t know if 50 games is the exact Tipping Point for identifying World Series-bound teams, the sample size that separates the champions from the streaky.

What I do know is that if the Dodgers go 2-2 in their next four games, they will do something achieved by only 16 other teams in major-league history — 81.3 percent of whom have gone on to reach the World Series. I like those odds.

Some links for a national left-hander’s day (which might favor Hyun-Jin Ryu tonight against Matt Harvey):
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Scott Elbert will undergo Tommy John surgery, won’t pitch until next year.

Dodgers pitcher Scott Elbert will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow next week and miss the remainder of the 2013 season.

Elbert was diagnosed with a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The expected time of recovery is 12-16 months.

This will be the third surgery Elbert has had on the elbow in the last year. He had operations to repair damaged cartilage in January and September 2012.
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Scott Elbert’s rehabilitation shut down.

Scott ElbertScott Elbert was getting closer.

The left-hander, who’s been on the disabled list since the season began, pitched on back-to-back nights May 25 and 26 on a rehab assignment for Double-A Chattanooga. That was supposed to be the final hurdle before Elbert returned to the Dodgers. He couldn’t clear it.

A recurrence of pain in his left elbow has forced Elbert to shut down his rehabilitation program. He’ll visit with a team doctor tomorrow to determine the next step.

Elbert, who is in the final year of his contract, had two surgeries on his left elbow this year. In 2012 he went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 43 appearances.

Elbert is on the 60-day disabled list. He went 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in eight rehab games this season between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga.

Daily Distractions: Texas two-step, Crawford hits, Elbert throws, plus links.

Rick Renteria, manager of Team Mexico, stops for an interview after his team’s 10-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday. If you watched this interview on TV in Mexico, now you know who that goofy-looking guy with the cell phone camera was.

The Dodgers are hosting the Texas Rangers today. Scott Van Slyke is starting at first base in his first call-up to the major league side since being demoted from the 40-man roster last year.

Keep an eye on the Rangers’ bullpen. Former Dodger Josh Lindblom, traded last year to the Philadelphia Phillies for Shane Victorino, is scheduled to pitch for Texas. Not many 25-year-old middle relievers can say they were traded for two former All-Stars, but Lindblom can (Victorino and Michael Young).

Three significant bits of injury news were widely reported out of Glendale this morning (I’m in Tempe) that I’ll pass along:

1. Zack Greinke, feeling better today after missing yesterday’s start with a flu, will throw a bullpen session Friday and pitch Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

2. Carl Crawford took 50 swings off a tee today and told reporters he felt fine.

3. Scott Elbert felt fine one day after throwing on flat ground for the first time since elbow surgery in January.

A bunch of noteworthy bullet points:

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