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Howie Kendrick activated from disabled list

Kendrick missed 34 games with a strained left hamstring.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers activated second baseman Howie Kendrick from the disabled list before their series opener against the Pirates on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Kendrick returns after missing 34 games with a strained left hamstring, though he is not in the starting lineup on Friday night.

"We have to get him back in. He's not going to play rehab games, so we're not just going to throw him out there every day. He's basically no restrictions," manager Don Mattingly said. "I know we do want to be careful with him, getting him back in there but not four or five games in a row."

Kendrick strained his left hamstring against the Pirates on Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh, the final game of a three-game series, a Pirates series sweep. Kendrick had two hits in that game, and has multi-hit games in each of his last five games, but hasn't played in nearly six weeks.

"To get started I want to get him out there and make sure he's healthy. I don't want to run him into the ground. Getting used to playing nine innings, all the movements he'll need to make. Everybody is pretty confident his hamstring is healed," Mattingly said. "The one thing we aren't able to do right now is get three or four rehab games in, so we're going to be careful to start."

Kendrick is hitting .296/.341/.418 with 20 doubles and nine home runs in 105 games. He played in at least three simulated games with the Dodgers in the last week or so, in both Anaheim and Los Angeles, and apparently passed his final running test on Wednesday.

Chase Utley gets the start at second base on Friday night, even with left-hander Jeff Locke. Kendrick will probably start Saturday, against lefty Francisco Liriano. Utley and Kendrick will essentially trade off days at second base in the short term to ease Kendrick back in.

"Liriano has been a lot tougher against lefties, so if we're going to go every other a little bit to get Howie going, this lefty is better for us match-up wise than tomorrow, for Chase," Mattingly explained.

Left-handed batters are hitting .297/.365/.428 against Locke this season, and .205/.295/.303 against Liriano.

The Dodgers now have 36 players on the active roster, including 17 pitchers.