Nathan Eovaldi to start for Dodgers in place of Ted Lilly

The Dodgers are recalling pitcher Nathan Eovaldi from double-A Chattanooga to start in place of Ted Lilly on Tuesday against Milwaukee.

Although Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly coyly deflected questions about Eovaldi on Sunday, Chattanooga pitching coach Chuck Crim later confirmed that the pitcher is headed to Los Angeles and said he was told the right-hander would take Lilly’s place in the rotation.

Lilly, who started the season on the disabled list because of neck stiffness, gave up eight runs and nine hits in 31/3 innings in a season-worst outing in Arizona his last time out.

And speculation that Eovaldi might take Lilly’s place for at least one start surfaced Saturday when his scheduled Southern League start was shortened to a one-inning relief appearance in which he struck out the only three batters he faced.

Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 3.09 earned-run average in 35 innings at Chattanooga. He spent three days with the Dodgers in April but did not appear in a game.

Although the Dodgers have the second-best ERA in the majors behind the Washington Nationals, there is growing concern about their rotation beyond Lilly’s health. Right-hander Chad Billingsley is 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA in four starts in May.

Last week, the Dodgers inquired about free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt but decided his contract demands were too high.

Mark Ellis pays a visit

Mark Ellis, his left leg wrapped in a bandage, was limping around the Dodgers’ clubhouse a week after undergoing emergency surgery that doctors say may have saved his leg.

“It feels good, just being able to move around,” Ellis said. “It’s getting a lot better.”

Injured on a take-out slide at second by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Tyler Greene, Ellis spent five days in a Los Angeles hospital after the operation. And he may need an additional procedure because of knee cartilage damage.

Mattingly guessed Ellis could be out six to eight weeks, but the infielder said there is no timetable for his return.

“It’s good to be back in the clubhouse, just to see everybody,” said Ellis, who was batting .273 and was errorless in 37 games at second base. “You feel you’re part of the team again.”

Matt Kemp plays in minors

Center fielder Matt Kemp made his first minor league rehabilitation appearance for triple-A Albuquerque.

Kemp, who went on the disabled list May 14 because of a left hamstring strain, will play another minor league game Monday and, if that goes well, is expected to return to the Dodgers’ lineup Tuesday. Outfielder Juan Rivera, who has sat out 17 games because of a hamstring strain, also played for Albuquerque, starting in left field. He is expected to continue his rehab assignment at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga this week.

Work pays off for Andre Ethier

Among the reasons for Andre Ethier’s improved performance against left-handers this season — he’s batting .324 against them, 82 points above his career average entering the season — is his regular work with batting practice pitcher Pete Bonfils.

Last year, Ethier did much of his pregame hitting against bullpen catcher Rob Flippo, a right-hander. But the outfielder has been paired with Bonfils this season on days the Dodgers face a left-handed starter and Ethier said seeing the ball from a different angle has made a difference.

“It’s all Andre,” said Bonfils, a former Angels minor league player who celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday, 43 years after he first put on a Dodgers uniform as a batboy. “He’s got a mindset that no matter what happens … he’s going to get two hits. He’s totally focused.”