Dodgers slightly off last year's pace

Sunday's 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks in Arizona marked the Dodgers' 81st game, the midway point of the season. At 45-36, the Dodgers are six games off last year's pace through the same amount of games (51-30). Monday afternoon, manager Joe Torre delivered a reasonably positive report card for his team over the first half of the season.

"When you consider the people [we've] had to do without -- Manny [Ramirez] a couple times on the DL, your starting pitcher on Opening Day [Vicente Padilla] on the DL, [Chad] Billingsley on the DL, Matt [Kemp] having the June he had," he said, "[Andre] Ethier being on the DL, [Rafael] Furcal being on the DL, I think we're alright."

Torre pointed to the team's pitching as the main reason they've maintained a decent position in the NL West, and looking forward was encouraged the team finally had a healthy five-man rotation now that Billingsley and Padilla are again back and pitching well, while John Ely has solidified the fifth slot held at the start of the season by Charlie Haeger.

Coming off a 5-1 road trip, the Dodgers have a chance to build more momentum, playing 14 of their next 18 at home, where they've run up a 24-15 record.

Monasterios nearing return

Right-hander Carlos Monasterios, on the 15-day disabled list since June 19 with a blood blister on the middle finger and split fingernail on the index finger of his pitching hand, could be activated soon, Torre said.

"It'll be tomorrow, [maybe] Wednesday," he said. "He's available to us, we just have to figure out the corresponding move. I know it always has that long-guy's name attached to it, but we'll just have to see."

While he didn't confirm it, Torre was almost certainly referring to righty Travis Schlichting, recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on June 16. Schlichting has thrown only six innings since re-joining the big-league club.

Monasterios, who has seen time as both a starter and reliever, will return to the bullpen when activated.

Furcal an All-Star, says Torre

A .474 average since June 15, tops in the major leagues, and a 10-game run scoring streak wasn't enough of a late push to earn a spot on the National League roster, but Torre said Rafael Furcal was worthy of a spot on the All-Star team nonetheless.

"He's an All Star," Torre said. "I think we get lost a little bit here on the west coast," he said. "What he's done this year, who you have out there at shortstop for either league right now, he matches up."

Furcal missed 25 games earlier in the season with a hamstring injury, which Torre saw as the major contributing factor to his omission from this weekend's festivities. Still, a strong track record over his career could have been considered.

"He doesn't have a lot of at-bats," Torre said, "but he certainly has been a regular player over the years."

Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers and Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.