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Yasmani Grandal is expected back in Dodgers lineup

Yasmani Grandal is expected back in Dodgers lineup
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal watches his two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning of a game on July 7 at Dodger Stadium. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Yasmani Grandal is expected to return to the Dodgers starting lineup Thursday, but Manager Don Mattingly sounded resigned to the possibility that his primary catcher could be limited by a bruised left shoulder for the remainder of the season.

"Any time it's this time of year, pretty much for everybody, especially catchers, they are banged up," Mattingly said.

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Grandal has been inactive for the last five days, sitting out four games.

"I'm not saying it's not going to stick around," Mattingly said. "But, hopefully, these days give him the best chance of being healthy, or getting as healthy he can be to get to the end of the year."

Grandal was struck by a foul ball on his nonthrowing shoulder at Philadelphia two weeks ago. The pain spread.

"It started out in the [trapezius], then went up to the neck, then went up to the middle back," Grandal said. "Then right rib, then left rib. The past couple days, it's gotten better to where we could start strengthening that shoulder without having to worry about the rib, the back or the neck."

The switch-hitting Grandal said his swing was affected, particularly left-handed.

"You need your back, your shoulder, you need your ribs to turn on a ball or stay inside a ball," Grandal said. "When you try to do that, your back hand when you're hitting lefty is not going to get through. You're basically hitting with one hand. It's difficult. You try and cheat because you think you're not going to get to the ball. Then all of a sudden, everything else is messed up."

In the seven games he played after the stop in Pittsburgh, Grandal was one for 18.

However, he said his defense was unaffected, and added that the improved form of backup catcher A.J. Ellis has allowed him to take his time returning.

"A.J.'s actually swinging the bat a lot better right now and doing a great job behind home plate, so why not give him a shot playing more games in a row?" Grandal said. "You never know what can happen in the long run."

Moving over

Chase Utley started taking ground balls at third base to prepare for a potential move when second baseman Howie Kendrick returns from the disabled list.

"Pretty good, I thought," Mattingly said. "His arm seemed to have plenty of carry."

Mattingly said he would be careful to not overwork the 36-year-old Utley before games he starts.

Utley has never started a game at third base in the major leagues.

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"Over at third, it is quick," Mattingly said. "That ball is on you and it's on you quick. Usually, if you're not coming up with it clean, you're pretty much not getting guys."

Back in the lineup

Joc Pederson could be back in the Dodgers lineup Thursday for their series finale in Cincinnati. Pederson was recently replaced by Enrique Hernandez as the team's primary center fielder.

"We can't totally abandon him," Mattingly said.

Right-hander Anthony

DeSclafani is scheduled to pitch for the Reds and Pederson hit a home run against him Aug. 16 at Dodger Stadium.

"It makes sense," Mattingly said of starting Pederson.

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