Dodgers activate Rafael Furcal

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated shortstop Rafael Furcal before Sunday's game with the Chicago White Sox and inserted him into the starting lineup in the leadoff spot, almost six weeks after he broke his left thumb sliding headfirst into third base.

To clear a roster spot, the team placed infielder Juan Uribe on the 15-day disabled list with a hip-flexor strain, an injury that might not sideline him for a full two weeks but that the club felt forced to make because it is playing so short-handed because of other injuries.

"It feels a little bittersweet," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Honestly, it doesn't feel great to lose one and get another, but it's great to get [Furcal] back. We were talking a little while back about hopefully getting our whole infield back together when we get home from this trip, so to lose Juan kind of puts a little damper on it."

Third baseman Casey Blake (staph infection), the other member of the starting infield on the disabled list, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday night against Colorado Springs. There is no schedule for Blake's rehab, but he probably won't return before the Dodgers begin a six-game homestand on Friday night against the Florida Marlins.

Furcal's final hurdle actually was his left knee, which he bruised on a slide into second base while on his minor league rehab assignment. He felt well enough on Sunday morning after running both before and after Saturday's game to come off the DL.

Utility infielder Aaron Miles continues to nurse a sore left rib cage, leaving Mattingly with a bench of only outfielder Tony Gwynn and backup catcher Dioner Navarro if he doesn't want to use Miles, which he said he was hoping to avoid.

"Every day I can buy for him, I feel better because I know he isn't 100 percent," Mattingly said of Miles. "He is getting better, and he is going to work on turning some double plays [before the game]. This is probably the last day for [not using him], honestly, because of [interleague play]. Once we get back to the National League, you just have to use more players."

The Dodgers begin a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Monday night.

The Uribe move was made retroactive to Saturday after he injured himself during Friday night's game. That will make him eligible to return on June 5 at Cincinnati, but if he is fully healed before then, he could go on a rehab assignment to get playing time.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.