NEW YORK -- The Dodgers haven't given up on landing Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, although the tone of rumors cooled noticeably on Saturday.

Even manager Don Mattingly seemed to be preparing himself for the deal to fall apart.

"Other teams have agendas to build or rebuild, and to put two teams together to make a deal is not as easy as it sounds," said Mattingly. "But if we're in position to pick up somebody that can help, we're going to do it."

That said, the Dodgers are still considered by many the favorites to land Dempster. The pitcher can virtually dictate where he ends up because he has trade-veto power and he's rumored to prefer the Dodgers, where he would be reunited with buddy Ted Lilly.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers reportedly are refusing to deal pitching prospect Zack Lee for Dempster because Dempster would essentially be a two-month rental as an upcoming free agent, and the Dodgers invested $5.25 million to sign Lee in 2010.

If the Dodgers trade Lee, it would more likely be for a player the Dodgers could control beyond this year, someone like Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who won't be a free agent until 2015. The Cubs are believed to be holding out for Lee.

Ellis expects to start on Sunday vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- An MRI on the left knee of Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis on Saturday was negative, and he said he expects to start on Sunday against the Mets.

Ellis, given a scheduled game off on Friday night, said the knee that has bothered him for 10 days swelled up after he played 12 innings on Wednesday and flew cross-country on Thursday.

"The MRI came back really good," said Ellis. "There is cartilage inflammation. Smartly, against my judgment, they want me to rest another day and get ready for [Sunday]. It's been a little sore for 10 days."

Manager Don Mattingly said he didn't know of Ellis' issue until after posting Friday night's lineup, which had Matt Treanor starting at catcher. Treanor started again on Saturday. Triple-A Albuquerque catcher Tim Federowicz was pulled during Friday night's Isotopes game, just in case.

Mattingly said his emergency catcher is either Luis Cruz, who is now starting at shortstop in place of the injured Dee Gordon, or Jerry Hairston.

"Jerry told me he caught in the Cape Cod League and he was really good at it," Mattingly said with a smile. Hairston played in the Cape Cod League in 1996.

"He's Jerry Hairston, darn it, he can do anything."

Hairston struggling on defense for past week

NEW YORK -- Jerry Hairston has been spectacular at times being shuffled around the Dodgers' infield this year. But he has been shaky in the past week at third base, where he's been charged with four errors since Sunday.

Three of the miscues were with throws, including one on Friday night that put the tying run on second base in the ninth inning when Hairston charged a roller by Jordany Valdespin and pulled a throw across his body wide of first baseman Juan Rivera.

"His throwing has been an issue a little bit, and I don't know what to say about it," said manager Don Mattingly. "I don't know if he's trying to do too much. I felt like last night he rushed there. He had another step to straighten up and get something on it.

"But he's also made unbelievable plays, throwing from his knees that tells you there's nothing wrong with his arm. He's a utility man for a reason -- it's not a slight. But you can't say he's a third baseman or a shortstop or a left fielder. His value comes from being able to play all over -- and a couple of throws the last four or five days have been off."