Mark Ellis has been a big contributor to the Los Angeles Dodgers' hot start, providing stellar defense at second base and getting on base at the top of the order, with a .373 on-base percentage and 27 runs scored in 37 games through Sunday's 6-5 win over St. Louis. But Ellis will be out for at least six weeks after getting placed on the disabled list on Saturday.

Ellis was hit in the side of his left leg on Friday night when Tyler Greene of the Cardinals slid into him at second base. Ellis was removed from the game and was sore afterward, but postgame x-rays showed no broken bones.

When he reported to the ballpark on Saturday, he felt pressure in his lower left leg and trainer Sue Falsone quickly discovered something was wrong with Ellis.

"Sue had a funny look on her face and I said, 'I don't like that look on your face,' and Mark didn't either," said manager Don Mattingly. "You could see it was serious."

Ellis was rushed to the hospital, where he had surgery on his leg, a fasciotomy, to relieve the pressure. Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache said it was a procedure often used for car accident victims. For Ellis, it could have been much more serious.

"That's serious stuff. I didn't realize how bad that was. As doc said last night, if that thing goes another six or seven hours, we have a chance of losing the leg," Mattingly said. "The muscle basically dies without any blood flow."

Ellis will be hospitalized until Tuesday, and miss at least six weeks. It could be even longer, depending on the health of his left knee. Given the urgency of the situation with his lower leg and the need for surgery, the Dodgers didn't have a chance to fully examine his knee.

"As we go, we're going to do more exams on his knee," Falsone said on Saturday. "What we had to do today was urgent so we're just focused on the lower leg right now."

The Dodgers will use a combination of Elian Herrera, Adam Kennedy, Justin Sellers, Ivan DeJesus, and (beginning Wednesday) Jerry Hairston Jr. at second base, as well as third base to fill in for Juan Uribe, who is also on the disabled list.

"I think he's a great player. The more you see him play, the better he is," Mattingly said of Ellis. "He's a tough guy to replace."