"I'm not even going to say, because I don't want to jinx it," Mattingly continued. "But Howie's going to be back."
Kendrick's return would be a nice boost to a Dodgers offense that is also without Yasiel Puig and Kiké Hernandez. While the Dodgers expect Kendrick to be back well before the end of the season, Mattingly said both Puig and Hernandez will be cutting it close.
All three players are sidelined with hamstring injuries -- the left hamstring for Kendrick and Hernandez, and the right for Puig.
"We're getting close with Howie," Mattingly said. "Yasiel is in early stages of this thing. He's doing more than Kiké, but not as much as Howie."
Mattingly reiterated that he views Kendrick as the Dodgers' primary second baseman, despite the acquisition of Chase Utley, who has spent some time working out at third base and could fill a utility role with Hernandez injured.
There is still time for Kendrick to rehab with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, whose playoffs begin Wednesday. Mattingly said the club hasn't discussed how Kendrick will be eased back, but he said it's worth waiting to make sure Kendrick is fully recovered.
"We'll be a little careful, but we want him to be ready to play every day," Mattingly said. "I don't know if that means seven, eight, 10 days in a row, necessarily. But I do think that it's two-, three-, four-day [stretches]."
As for Puig and Hernandez, the Dodgers will likely send them to their training facility in Glendale, Ariz., when they are ready to begin rehab. The Minor League season will be over by then, so they'd most likely participate in simulated games.
• Mattingly got a phone call from MLB's chief baseball officer Joe Torre regarding Thursday night's controversial call at second base. In the sixth inning of an eventual 10-7 loss, Utley was ruled to have been off the second-base bag on a close double-play attempt, and second-base umpire Chris Conroy did not employ the "neighborhood" rule.
Mattingly said he was "satisfied" with his conversation with Torre, a day after he called the rule "something for the league to think about." Mattingly wouldn't go into the specifics of the call.
• Oklahoma City Dodgers manager Damon Berryhill was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year on Friday. The PCL Dodgers entered play Wednesday night 85-55, and they have already clinched first place in the American Northern Division.