Ramirez on DL with calf strain

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the third time this season and the second time this month on Tuesday after an MRI exam revealed a severe strain in his right calf. Ramirez is expected to miss at least three to four weeks, and his response to treatment over the next week to 10 days will determine whether he has any chance to be back even that soon.

This marks the second time this season Ramirez has gone on the DL with a right calf injury, although the team says his current injury isn't the same as that one.

"It's a significant strain," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That would explain why it wasn't going away."

To fill Ramirez's roster spot, the Dodgers activated catcher Brad Ausmus from the 60-day disabled list. Another roster move will come on Wednesday, when the club probably will option catcher A.J. Ellis to Triple-A Albuquerque and add an outfielder, with veteran major leaguer Jay Gibbons the most likely player to get the call from Albuquerque.

Ramirez, who spent two weeks on the shelf earlier this month with a strained right hamstring, had been off the DL for a little more than 24 hours when he began to feel tightness in the calf while warming up for Friday night's game at St. Louis. Ramirez went ahead and tried to play, but left the game after the top of the first inning, when he drew a walk but never advanced past first base.

Ramirez, 38, is in the final season of a two-year, $45 million contract that carries so much deferred money that the Dodgers won't be finished paying him until 2013. Mostly because of his injuries, he has played in just 61 of the Dodgers' 93 games this season. He is batting .317 with a .409 on-base percentage, but has shown little power, hitting just eight homers and driving in 39 runs.

Still, despite the fact that Dodgers have held their own in the National League West while playing much of their season without Ramirez, Torre said losing him again is a blow.

"You never want to get used to it," Torre said. "We are still anticipating him coming back. This is obviously disappointing by virtue of the fact we had just gotten him back and nothing had really happened."

Xavier Paul, Garret Anderson and utilityman Jamey Carroll are rotating in left field for the Dodgers in Ramirez's absence. Paul was in the starting lineup for Tuesday night's game against Tim Lincecum and San Francisco. He went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI double, but the Dodgers still lost 7-5.

If all goes well, Ramirez should be ready to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment in about three weeks.

Ramirez joined his teammates in stretching before Tuesday night's game against San Francisco. He hasn't been speaking to reporters this season.

The activation of Ausmus, who had four plate appearances in 2010 before going on the disabled list with back trouble, gives the Dodgers three catchers on the roster for the time being, along with Russell Martin and A.J. Ellis. But with Reed Johnson already on the DL, Los Angeles had only one other outfield option on the 40-man roster: Double-A outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Martin has also been nursing a thumb injury, though he returned Monday and had three hits against the Giants.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Jon Weisman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.