LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had a team meeting on Sunday morning, with manager Don Mattingly outlining his expectations for the club coming out of the All-Star break.
While the Dodgers entered Sunday with the best record in the Major Leagues since June 22 (17-4), Mattingly wants to see the same effort from his club after the four-day layoff.
"We've kind of gotten our confidence now and we're playing well," Mattingly said before Sunday's game against the Rockies. "We've got some momentum. So the biggest thing now is to be ready to play. We need to be ready to play and not come out of the break like we're still on it."
Last season, the Dodgers led the National League West at the All-Star break. But they dropped four of five games to start the second half and fell out of first place in the National League West.
"It's a fear for all managers that you come out of that break and it takes you five days to get going and next thing you know you've lost three or four games if it goes wrong," Mattingly said. "For me, let's be ready to play when we come out of the break. Enjoy your time, take your break, but be ready to turn it back on."
The Dodgers travel to Washington for a three-game series with the Nationals coming out of the break, then head to Toronto for an Interleague series.
Kershaw to open his second half on Sunday
LOS ANGELES -- Ricky Nolasco will start on Friday against the Nationals in the first game for the Dodgers coming out of the All-Star break. Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will follow in the three-game series, then Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano will start the first two games of a three-game Interleague series against the Blue Jays.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Sunday he wants to provide extra rest for Ryu and Kershaw. Ryu is 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 18 starts, but the Korean rookie is still adjusting to pitching every fifth day. Kershaw, likely to pitch in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, leads the Majors with 145 1/3 innings pitched.
"I'm trying to get Hyun-Jin a little extra time," Mattingly said. "With Kershaw pitching in the All-Star Game, I felt like that's a good way to do it. Ricky is matched up really well."
Nolasco is familiar with the Nationals, a division rival in the National League East during his days with the Marlins. He is 11-7 with a 3.66 ERA lifetime against Washington.
Puig, Crawford return, but M. Ellis still out
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, so the four-day layoff could do some good.
Yasiel Puig (left hip), Carl Crawford (lower back) and Mark Ellis (knee) were all held out of Sunday's starting lineup against the Rockies.
Puig was able to pinch-hit and play four innings in the outfield. The rookie singled in his first at-bat in the fifth and scored the Dodgers' only run in a 3-1 loss. Puig ran well on the bases, unlike Friday when he had a noticeable limp.
Puig believes the time off will allow him to recover and return to the lineup for a three-game series against the Nationals coming out of the break.
"Hopefully when we're in Washington I'll be able to start," Puig said.
Crawford entered as a defensive replacement in left field in the top of the ninth, and popped out to shortstop in his lone at-bat.
"Carl seems like he's getting better," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "But he's probably not quite right. I feel like he's going to be ready to roll after the break."
Ellis fouled a ball off his knee in an eighth inning at-bat on Saturday night and was removed from the game.
"He's limping pretty good," Mattingly said.
Kemp expected to return from DL on July 21
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers expect Matt Kemp to return from the disabled list on the first day he is eligible on July 21, which would give manager Don Mattingly a crowded outfield, with four options for three spots.
Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig were all healthy for just one game together last week in San Francisco. Kemp irritated the AC joint in his left shoulder on a swing in his first at-bat on July 5, and left the game after two innings. Kemp hasn't played since and went on the DL last Monday.
But the Dodgers expect Kemp to return to the outfield mix on the final game of a three-game series against the Nationals.
"I'm assuming he's going to be ready," manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday.
Mattingly said he would prefer to have a decision to make in the outfield each game.
"I like the problem of the four guys, honestly," Mattingly said. "It gives me a lot of different combinations of guys to play. I can keep some guys rested. I'd rather have a full compliment and deal with that."
Crawford has been out of the lineup for five straight games with a sore lower back, and has battled hamstring issues this season. Puig is nursing a sore left hip. Kemp would be coming off his second DL stint of the season, after missing 24 games with a strained right hamstring. So Mattingly could use a crowded outfield as an advantage.
As for Kemp, he's scheduled to start swinging a bat next week and could go on a brief Minor League rehab assignment after the All-Star break.
"I would think we would want him to play something," Mattingly said. "He probably should. I would think a few games would be good from our standpoint to make sure that he's healthy."
• Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly, on the disabled list with a neck issue, threw a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium on Sunday morning. Lilly is attempting to transition to a relief role after being a starter during his 15-year Major League career.
• On this date in 1995, right-hander Ramon Martinez no-hit the Marlins in a 7-0 victory at Dodger Stadium. Martinez joined Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as the only Dodgers pitchers to have both a no-hitter and an 18-strikeout game in their careers.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.