Dodgers activate Rod Barajas

PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated catcher Rod Barajas from the 15-day disabled list, where he had been since June 19 with a sprained right ankle, following Wednesday night's team workout at Chase Field in advance of Thursday night's second-half opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

To clear a roster spot, the club optioned catcher A.J. Ellis to Triple-A Albuquerque for the second time this season.

Barajas went 7-for-18 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs during a four-game rehabilitation stint with advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

"I felt good," Barajas said. "I went down there and DH'd the first couple of games, scored from first, scored from second, had plenty of opportunities to run from the beginning. I was able to accomplish running the bases those first two days, and that was the big challenge. That was huge. Then to get out there and catch nine innings on Sunday, that was when I knew I was good to go."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he envisions splitting the catching duties more equally now between Barajas and Dioner Navarro than he did before Barajas got hurt, when Barajas got the bulk of the starts. Barajas is 35 and might benefit from more frequent rest, and Navarro has gone a respectable 4-for-15 at the plate so far in July. He is hitting .183 for the season.

"It looks like we're going to kind of mix and match there," Mattingly said. "That is really what I wanted to do from the beginning."

Mattingly said he and general manager Ned Colletti considered keeping Ellis and going with three catchers and that they still might do that in the near future. If nothing else, Ellis can probably count on another September call-up.

Ellis declined to comment on his latest demotion.

Meanwhile, newly acquired first baseman/outfielder Juan Rivera donned a Dodgers uniform for the first time and took part in the workout. Mattingly hinted that Rivera might get his first start on Thursday night against Diamondbacks lefty Joe Saunders, but he also said the left-handed-hitting Tony Gwynn will continue to get the bulk of the starts in left field because Mattingly likes the way he has performed lately.

Gwynn is hitting .256 at the break but .324 in July.

Mattingly said the righty-hitting Rivera also could occasionally fill in for lefty-hitting first baseman James Loney, but Loney is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a home run and four RBIs in his career against Saunders so he likely will start the series opener. Mattingly said Rivera also could see some time in right field.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.