Dodgers Report: Hanley Ramirez

Dodgers are navigating a tricky stretch

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
8:56
PM PT
PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Ellis wore a dark blue T-shirt under his uniform and catchers gear Monday night in Pittsburgh. After catching nine innings on a muggy night, the shirt was navy blue, soaked completely through by sweat.

It’s getting into that time of the year, the hottest months. Teams begin to separate themselves, the trade deadline looms and tension rises. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the post-All-Star break portion of their schedule has begun drenched in stress.

It ratcheted up some more on Monday, with their two best players visiting the X-ray machine instead of the batter’s box. The Dodgers only have two players among the Top 70 in the majors in OPS and neither of them was in the lineup Monday night. They might not be healthy enough to play Tuesday, either. Who knows about Wednesday?

[+] EnlargeHanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsOn Monday, the Dodgers' offense was without two key cogs in Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig. It's uncertain if they will play Tuesday in Pittsburgh, or even Wednesday.
Indeed, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez still are nursing badly bruised hands, injuries caused by errant pitches by St. Louis Cardinals pitchers over the weekend.

Add that to the fact the Dodgers got to Pittsburgh at about 4 a.m. to face an improving Pirates team that had won six in a row at home, and it wasn’t the ideal get-well locale.

Oh, and on Tuesday, the Dodgers will line up behind a 34-year-old pitcher, Josh Beckett, coming off the disabled list admitting he’ll probably be pitching the rest of this season with pain from a hip impingement. Oh, and Wednesday they’re starting Dan Haren, who has allowed 18 home runs over his past 13 starts, during which he has a 5.25 ERA.

So Monday night’s 5-2 win was bigger than your average nondescript major league game. The Dodgers are just dipping their toes in the deep end of the pool -- they open the second half with 26 of 29 games against contending teams -- and so far they’ve hung in there under trying conditions, going 2-2.

Monday felt like another key test. And every time they pass one of those, they feel a little better about what’s to come.

“I think it shows that we’re not based around Puig or based around Hanley. We’re based around a team,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “If we get quality at-bats, we can score plenty of runs.”

Apparently they weren’t getting many quality at-bats for the previous couple of weeks, because the Dodgers had averaged two runs a game in their eight games coming into Monday, and that was mostly with Puig and Ramirez.

On Monday, they faced a retread pitcher, Edinson Volquez, but a retread pitcher who had won his past four decisions and was coming off a complete-game victory against the San Francisco Giants, the team the Dodgers are jockeying with for NL West supremacy.

The Dodgers put together a grinders attack against Volquez. They still haven’t homered in nine games -- one of their longest powerless stretches in 20 years -- but they had 12 hits Monday, eight of them singles and a double off an infielder’s glove.

Mainly, they got a strong seven innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-5).

Ryu looms large now that the Dodgers have little idea what to expect from Haren or Beckett and aren't sure they want to deal their few elite prospects for a front-line starter.

Last year, the Dodgers learned they can rely on Ryu in the thinner air of pennant races and playoff games. They need him now more than ever. You can go far in the playoffs with two dominant starters in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but it’s harder to manage two-and-a-half months that way.

“Every game means a lot more now,” Ryu said through his interpreter. “As a starter, my role is to go out there and give my team a chance to win. If I can go out there for six or seven innings and not give up too many runs, I’ll be pretty happy with that.”

So will the Dodgers, though “too many runs” is a sliding scale these days.

Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig: Who ya got?

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
10:02
AM PT
Yasiel Puig and Mike TroutAP Photo/Danny MoloshokCompare Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout all you want, but take a moment to simply enjoy how great both players are.


MINNEAPOLIS -- Back in March, before the Dodgers played the Angels in one of their annual preseason exhibition games, several Dodgers players, including Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe, were posing for pictures behind the batting cage with Mike Trout.

When Yasiel Puig tried to jump in the shot, Uribe -- who, when he’s not playing third base volunteers for the chore of keeping Puig humble -- playfully shoved Puig out of the picture, saying in Spanish, "Puros caballos," which roughly translates as, "Studs only."

[+] EnlargeYasiel Puig
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillYasiel Puig can do it all on the field, much like his Southern California neighbor, Mike Trout.
Eventually, Puig got his picture and, as usual, he posted it to his Instagram account with the caption, "Trout, a good player and a pleasure to meet."

If things keep going as they are, these two young players will meet, and be linked, for many years to come. Trout is 22. Puig is 23. And, as their fortunes ebb and flow as all major league players' do, people will ask the question, "Who would you take?"

If we rewind and freeze the frame on June 3, you could have made a plausible case for Puig over Trout. Less than a year into Puig’s first calendar year in Major League Baseball, he was batting .343 with a 1.042 OPS. He had 11 homers and 40 RBIs after 54 games. He was showing newfound discipline at the plate. For the first time in his career, Trout was beginning to create some doubters. Trout had 64 strikeouts in his first 54 games and his OPS had dipped from Mount Olympus onto the soil where humans live. It was, gasp, .925.

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But even most die-hard Dodgers fans would admit that was simply a moment, fleeting as they all are. Put those fans in a big-money fantasy league and how many Dodgers fans would actually choose Puig over Trout. It’s an unfair comparison, of course, like finding a brilliant young player in 1953 and saying, “Yeah, but is he as good as Mickey Mantle?” As this Jayson Stark piece illustrates so well, at this All-Star Game, Trout likely is taking over for Derek Jeter as the face of baseball. He’s doing that mainly because he is the best player in baseball. If we go by wins above replacement, Trout’s 25.8 through his age-22 season is the best of all time, edging Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Alex Rodriguez. That’s pretty good, right?

Puig’s cumulative WAR (remember, he has played less than half as many major league games as Trout) is 8.2. So, yeah, he’s in the discussion, too.

Just as Puig has found himself fascinated by Trout, the feeling is mutual. Trout said that over the past year or so, every time he got back to his home and turned on "SportsCenter" or the MLB Network, it seemed like they were showing Puig’s highlights or breaking down aspects of his game, the good and the bad. Like many other fans, Trout finds Puig fun to watch.

Asked to compare their games, Trout admitted there are similarities, then settled on this fundamental difference: "I'm a little more of a control guy. He pretty much lets it all out -- lets it eat -- and you've got to respect that. He's a great player."

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Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 2, Padres 1

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
9:42
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw made another run at a hallowed place in Dodgers history and, unlike the night he threw his nearly perfect no-hitter, this time he came up short.

Kershaw's streak of consecutive scoreless innings ended at 41 -- 18 short of Orel Hershiser's major-league record -- during the Dodgers' 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night. Still, it was a remarkable, even historic run of pitching. In Hershiser's 59 innings, he struck out 40 batters. In Kershaw's 41, he struck out 50.

How it happened: Kershaw hung a 1-and-2 slider and Chase Headley hammered it over the wall in left-center field in the sixth inning. Voila, that ended Kershaw's scoreless streak. After Kershaw completed the inning by striking out Carlos Quentin, he got a nice ovation from a sellout crowd but hardly seemed to acknowledge it.

The Dodgers had their share of issues with San Diego's crafty young starter, Odrisamer Despaigne, who generally baffled them for seven innings. Yasiel Puig managed to score a run after a leadoff double in the first and Hanley Ramirez created another by singling, stealing a base and advancing on a wayward throw, but that was it.

The Padres, who have the worst offense in baseball, didn't give themselves much of a chance to win by making four errors.

Hits: The complete list of pitchers who have thrown as many or more consecutive scoreless innings as Kershaw just pulled off since 1961: Hershiser, Don Drysdale (58), Bob Gibson (47), Brandon Webb (42) and Luis Tiant (41). So, yeah, it was a good accomplishment. And, hey, he's only 26. He'll have other chances. He pitched three straight scoreless to end the game, so that's a start. Run or not, it was more of the same stuff from Kershaw, who pitched an 11-strikeout complete game and gave up only three hits.

Misses: The middle of the Dodgers' order hasn’t been putting much of a scare into opponents. Ramirez has been in and out of the lineup and has hit one home run in the last month. Adrian Gonzalez has two extra-base hits this month. Puig has generally been productive, but he had a couple of poor at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Stat of the game: Of the 149 batters Kershaw faced leading into Headley's home run, only three of them got as far as third base.

Up next: The Dodgers continue this four-game series, with Dan Haren (8-5, 4.06 ERA) pitching for the Dodgers against San Diego’s Jesse Hahn (4-2, 2.34) at 7:05 p.m.

Stock watch: Kershaw chasing Hershiser

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
6:00
AM PT

RISING

Streaking
Clayton Kershaw, LHP: On June 13, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill doubled to left field to drive in Chris Owings and cut the Los Angeles Dodgers' lead to 2-1 in the third inning. It didn't seem all that remarkable at the time, but in retrospect, that was the last time anyone had a meaningful hit off Kershaw. His next game was a near-perfect no-hitter (with 15 strikeouts) against the Colorado Rockies and, entering Thursday night's game against the San Diego Padres, Kershaw is riding a 36-inning scoreless streak, the longest by a Dodger since Orel Hershiser set the major league record of 59 in 1988. How good has Kershaw been over those 36 innings? Put it this way: He has 45 strikeouts and five walks.

Dee Gordon, 2B: In an era when many veteran players look for every excuse not to attend the All-Star Game, Gordon couldn't be more thrilled to have received the invitation. In fact, he told reporters he felt like crying when manager Don Mattingly told him. You've got to love that, and you’ve got to love the fact that Gordon got himself into the game with a late push that was all his doing -- not a campaign by the PR staff. He is batting .367 in July. St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who will manage the NL team, will be glad he has Gordon if the game is close late, because if Gordon gets on base -- or is used as a pinch runner -- he could decide the outcome by stealing a base or two and scoring a key run.

Yasiel Puig, RF: Another Dodgers All-Star, Puig is showing signs of pulling himself out of the desperate power outage he endured in June. Perhaps he was just trying too hard to make it to Minneapolis? He seems to have settled down, to be chasing fewer pitches out of the strike zone and to be making better contact. After going all of June without a home run, Puig is batting .272 with four doubles, a triple and a home run in eight games in July. Most likely he will be the only Gillette Home Run Derby participant who has one home run in his past month-and-a-half, but he will be hitting batting practice, after all.

FALLING

Slumping
The veteran starters: Josh Beckett, 34, resurrected his career in the first half and, just a couple of weeks ago, looked like an All-Star lock. Dan Haren, 33, had kept the Dodgers in every game he started until things started getting a little wobbly a couple of weeks ago. Now, the Dodgers don't know what they can expect from either one of them in the second half, sending general manager Ned Colletti scurrying to drum up trade talks for starting pitchers. Beckett is on the 15-day disabled list because of a left hip impingement and Haren has a 5.40 ERA in his past seven starts.

Matt Kemp, LF: Carl Crawford is soon to return from the disabled list -- maybe Thursday -- and Kemp, once again, will have to compete for playing time. His at-bats have been all over the map lately. He was 0-for-16 going into the final Colorado game, then went 7-for-9 in the next two games, but came back down to earth Wednesday in Detroit with some unproductive at-bats. Overall, he's batting .242 in his past eight games and Mattingly figures to feel some pressure to get Crawford into games. Both players are confined to left field for now, so it's pretty obvious Kemp will be the odd man out from time to time. The Dodgers, after all, aren't going to pay Crawford $21 million and never play him, will they?

Hanley's health: Is he ready to go, or isn't he? Hanley Ramirez has gotten more than three plate appearances in a game only four times since June 23 -- a span of three weeks -- and two of those were as the designated hitter in Detroit. He has generally hit well enough to support his playing time, but are the Dodgers better off just putting him on the disabled list, letting his shoulder and calf heal and trying to get by with Miguel Rojas' limited offense for a while -- say, through the All-Star break? It seems like a relevant question, particularly since Rojas is a major upgrade defensively.

Ramirez appears healthy in return to lineup

July, 4, 2014
Jul 4
9:23
AM PT
DENVER -- Here’s some relief for Dodgers fans: shortstop Hanley Ramirez's strained left calf and aggravated right shoulder appeared healthy in the team’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargeHanley Ramirez
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiHanley Ramirez went 0-for-2 with two walks Thursday against the Rockies.
Well, at least they appeared to be somewhat healthy. After speculation that Ramirez would most likely end up on the disabled list Thursday, Ramirez instead returned to the lineup and carved out two walks in four plate appearances before he was replaced by rookie Erisbel Arruebarrena for defensive purposes in the eighth inning.

“I can still help this team win games,” Ramirez said.

On Thursday, though, it was starting pitcher Zack Greinke who took much of the spotlight, going eight innings while giving up only two runs. And Juan Uribe took most of the rest of the work, collecting three hits, including the game-winning single in the top of the ninth inning.

Ramirez, meanwhile, made it clear that he’s happy the team is winning. And although his offensive production has dipped -- dipped in the most plunging sense of the word, going from a batting average of .345 in 86 games last year to an average of .269 in 77 games this year -- Ramirez assured reporters Thursday that he wasn’t worried about it.

"The past is the past. I never think about the past,” he said. “I don't care what people think. The only thing I care about is winning games. Numbers, at the end of the year, they're going to be there.”

Ramirez, who will turn 31 in December, will be a free agent after the season. His health and production from here on out will likely be a huge factor in the kind of contract he’ll be offered.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who was pleased with Ramirez’s performance on Thursday, said his shortstop will be in and out of the lineup heading into the All-Star break.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 3, Rockies 2

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
8:35
PM PT


DENVER -- In the Los Angeles Dodgers' first of four games against the Colorado Rockies, the Denver weather proved to be unpredictable, and a mess at times.

A bit like the Dodgers had been playing in their past couple of games.

On Thursday, however, starting pitcher Zach Greinke (11-4), who will likely to be named an All-Star on Sunday, pitched well and made sure his team wouldn't follow suit in the Dodgers' 3-2 win at Coors Field.

How it happened: It wasn't full of home runs and frazzled pitchers like most Coors Field games are known for, but any kind of win was exactly the kind of performance the Dodgers needed. After dropping two consecutive games against the lowly Cleveland Indians, Greinke went eight innings and gave up two runs before Juan Uribe singled home the winning run in the ninth to down the struggling Rockies. The best thing about the day for manager Don Mattingly's group, however, may have been shortstop Hanley Ramirez. He was just OK in his return to the lineup, forcing two walks in four trips, but most important he seemed to have no setbacks after flirting with the disabled list these past few weeks.

Hits: Greinke won his second consecutive start after giving up five runs against the Kansas City Royals on June 23. He had solid control, with few hiccups, and struck out eight. Greinke is now 2-0 in three starts against the Rockies this season.

Misses: The Dodgers' defense has been a little suspect of late, and the trend continued. In the fifth, a mix-up between right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Scott Van Slyke not only gave the Dodgers their fifth error in three games, but it seemed to mess with Greinke's flow a little bit. With two out and Greinke rolling, D.J. LeMahieu looped a somewhat makeable play near Puig and Van Slyke. Unfortunately for them, both of them paused for a moment and the ball slipped by turning a single into a two-base hit. A batter later, Josh Rutledge, who pinch hit for Rockies starter Franklin Morales, then split the two outfielders with a line double for the host team's first run. LeMahieu also singled on his next at-bat in the seventh inning, on a ball that Ramirez seemed to have a pretty good chance on. It was not scored as an error though.

Stat of the game: One-half. That's the Dodgers' lead, in games, on the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings as of Thursday night.

Up next: It's Clayton Kershaw (9-2). The potential starter of the All-Star Game for the National League will have a 28-inning scoreless streak on the line when he faces the Rockies for the first time since he no-hit them on June 18. Opposing him will be Jair Jurrjens, who was traded from Reds to the Rockies on Wednesday. First pitch will be 5:10 p.m. PT, as the Dodgers will look to extend their five-game winning streak against the Rockies.

Series preview: Dodgers at Rockies

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:00
AM PT
Somebody asked Andre Ethier whether the Dodgers were "down" about playing two pretty lousy games at the conclusion of their last homestand and, thus, slipping right back into second place in the NL West, where they had spent nearly all of June.

"Three weeks ago, you guys said we were out of it," Ethier said. "We're one game out, so are we going to be down?"

OK, probably not, but this weekend -- with four games in Colorado -- would be a good time to get back on track. The Rockies have gone 8-25 over the past month or so and the Dodgers will be facing four pitchers with ERAs that range between 4.86 (Jorge De La Rosa) and 9.45 (Christian Friedrich) while countering with Zack Greinke (2.78), Clayton Kershaw (2.04), Dan Haren (3.57) -- who just pitched seven shutout innings -- and Josh Beckett (2.37).

Then again, scoring has been an issue for the Dodgers lately and there are strong indications they'll put slugging shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list when they get there Thursday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly intimated that's where things were heading before Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Ramirez walked during a pinch-hitting appearance in that game and seemed to limp running to third on Ethier's bloop double.

Colorado said it planned to activate its slick-fielding third baseman, Nolan Arenado, before Thursday's game. Carlos Gonzalez might begin a rehab assignment in the coming days, but he's unlikely to return in the next four games. The Rockies had 10 players on the DL going into Wednesday and it looks as if pitcher Jhoulys Chacin could be out for the season because of a shoulder injury.

The Rockies were actually playing pretty well when they got to Dodger Stadium a couple of weeks ago and the Dodgers dominated in a three-game sweep, outscoring them 18-3. That seemed to put them right back in their funk: They're 2-11 since.

Stock watch: Starters in cruise control

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
6:00
AM PT

RISING

Streaking
Control: Dodgers starting pitchers aren't infallible, but you've got to do something impressive to beat them most of the time. That's a pretty serious head start and part of the reason why the Dodgers have easily the best rotation in the National League so far. Hyun-Jin Ryu didn't walk anyone Wednesday and Dodgers starters have gone 36 straight games without walking more than two batters in a game. Is that impressive? One team, the 2005 Minnesota Twins, has matched it in the past 100 years.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP: He doesn't qualify among the league leaders yet, because he missed those five weeks because of an upper-back injury. But, wow, those numbers. Kershaw has struck out 107 batters this season and walked 11, an almost-absurd ratio of better than 9-to-1. Mike Matheny is almost certain to name his own guy, Adam Wainwright, as the National League starter in the All-Star Game. A similar thing happened to Kershaw last season, when Matt Harvey got the nod pitching at Citi Field. You could make a legitimate argument, once again, that Kershaw is more deserving.

Dee Gordon, 2B: It was not an impressive homestand for the Dodgers hitters. In fact, the Dodgers went 4-3 largely despite their offense. But Gordon became their catalyst again and reignited his All-Star chances by going 11-for-29 (.380). He has scored 11 runs in his past 16 games.

FALLING

Slumping
Yasiel Puig, RF: Don Mattingly says he thinks Puig looks tired. It's hard to tell, because Puig always plays with relentless energy. But what Mattingly senses is a mental fatigue. He's going out of the strike zone more and more and swinging at pitches the pitcher wants him to. After hitting eight home runs in May, he hasn't hit one since. His walk rate is down. His strikeouts are up.

Fundamentals. The Dodgers appeared to have fixed their primary weakness, and it was helping fuel their great pitching. They went from being one of the worst-fielding teams to being above average in short order. But in the past two games of the homestand, the Dodgers got a little sloppy in two areas. They ran into outs Tuesday night and they kicked the ball around Wednesday afternoon. That was particularly surprising since two of the offenders Wednesday, Carlos Triunfel and Miguel Rojas, are considered premium defenders.

Disabled list appears to be in Hanley's future

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
11:17
AM PT
LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers haven’t yet made the move official, but it appears more and more likely that shortstop Hanley Ramirez will land on the disabled list, probably Thursday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called Thursday a “drop-dead date,” for making a decision on Ramirez’s short-term future.

That’s because the Dodgers could put Ramirez on the DL Thursday in Colorado and have him eligible to return July 18, the day they return from the All-Star break. They would miss him for just 10 games in such a scenario, the one they’re leaning toward.

Ramirez has been bothered by both shoulder and calf pain over the past few weeks. He has had four plate appearances since June 23.

“We don’t want to DL anyone and, obviously, we’re better with Hanley,” Mattingly said, “but we also want him healthy.”

Ramirez, who is a free agent next winter, hasn’t been on the DL this season. He was limited to 86 games last year with thumb and hamstring injuries.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers fielded a lineup missing four regulars for Wednesday’s day game with the Cleveland Indians. Mattingly said Yasiel Puig has appeared tired to him, that Juan Uribe needs days off as he returns from a strained hamstring and Adrian Gonzalez felt some stiffness in his neck late in Tuesday night’s game. Mattingly said he hopes all three players will return to the lineup Thursday.

Rapid Reaction: Indians 10, Dodgers 3

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
10:32
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost their wackiest game of the season, making for a short stay atop the NL West: one day.

And a wild streak remains intact: Despite their generally hot play, the Dodgers still haven't won four games in a row this season. They're 0-for-7 after winning the first three.

The Cleveland Indians beat L.A. 10-3 Tuesday night, thanks in part to a fourth-inning triple play that went, improbably, 7-2-4, and prompted two replay reviews.

Michael Brantley caught Adrian Gonzalez's shallow fly ball in left and threw out Dee Gordon at the plate. After Yasiel Puig took off for second amid the confusion, catcher Yan Gomes gunned him out. Both plays were challenged, but the upshot was the first triple play at Dodger Stadium in more than two years.

The loss, combined with the San Francisco Giants' 5-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, put the Dodgers back in second place, a half-game out. (The Dodgers had grabbed sole possession of first place for the first time since April the night before.)

How it happened: It was a promising game for the Dodgers' offense in that it produced action, including 10 hits. But it was a miserable game for clutch hitting. In addition to the triple play, the Dodgers wasted a second-and-third, nobody-out situation in the second inning and a bases-loaded, nobody-out chance in the fifth. Pinch hitters Hanley Ramirez and Clint Robinson both struck out in the fifth.

Beckett, who according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been dealing with general soreness, had a come-down-to-earth start, giving up five runs and six hits in five innings.

Hits: Gordon had a nice night at the plate, bolstering his All-Star chances. But he may have taken an unnecessary risk in the sixth inning. After reaching base on his third hit of the night -- a chopper to the third baseman -- Gordon was thrown out trying to steal with the Dodgers trailing by four runs in the sixth inning. In Gordon's first 37 attempted steals, he was caught three times. In his last 12 tries, he has been caught six times.

Misses: Matt Kemp heard some boos after his third strikeout of the night. Seemed a bit harsh. Kemp may have had a rough night at the plate -- and he also looked a bit lost hauling in Brantley's fly ball in the third inning -- but he was batting .354 with a 1.015 OPS in his previous 23 games.

Stat of the game: Since season’s start of 2010, the Dodgers were 35-2 when an opposing starter didn't last longer than three innings. Now they are 35-3 in such situations. The Dodgers managed seven hits off Justin Masterson and Indians manager Terry Francona relieved him of the ball with nobody out in the fourth inning. Then came the triple play, and things got worse from there.

Up next: The Dodgers can still win their fifth straight series if they can beat the Indians on Wednesday afternoon. Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4, 3.12 ERA) will oppose former UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer (2-4, 4.39) at 12:10 PT.

Nursing Hanley through All-Star break

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
5:17
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Considering Hanley Ramirez has had two plate appearances since June 23 and has started one of the Dodgers' last eight games, it seems reasonable to wonder whether he's headed for the disabled list for the first time this season. He has been bothered in the past few weeks by both an irritated right shoulder and a strained left calf.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly insists that's not the case. He used Ramirez as a pinch hitter Monday night and he was promptly intentionally walked by Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona. The pinch hitter behind Ramirez, Clint Robinson, drove in the winning run with his first major-league hit.

"If it was a DL possibility, we wouldn't be using him," Mattingly said.

In reality, though, the Dodgers could use Ramirez as a pinch hitter in both Tuesday's and Wednesday's games and then put him on the DL Thursday, which means he would be eligible to return immediately after the All-Star break, having missed only 10 games on the DL. The team has Monday through Thursday off during All-Star week.

Again, Mattingly said that's not what's going on, though he said it's unlikely Ramirez would start in Wednesday's game either. It begins at 12:10 p.m.

"Hanley's getting better and this is not a situation where we expect him to pinch hit through the break, I'll put it that way," Mattingly said.

Josh Beckett dealing with general soreness

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
6:44
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Pitcher Red Patterson had his start at Triple-A Albuquerque moved from Sunday to Tuesday in case the Los Angeles Dodgers need him to step in for Josh Beckett, according to manager Don Mattingly.

Beckett, 34, has not missed a start since he was activated April 9, but he has had to skip between-starts bullpen sessions at times because of overall soreness.

Mattingly said Monday the team expects Beckett to be able to make his scheduled start Tuesday, but the Dodgers wanted Patterson to be lined up in case Beckett needs to sit out a start in the coming weeks.

“Josh is always the guy that, in between starts, we worry about, because he battles every time to get ready for the next one,” Mattingly said.

Beckett has pitched two consecutive seven-inning shutouts and has thrown 93⅔ innings this season. He pitched the season's first no-hitter on May 25. His 2.11 ERA trails only Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright among qualified NL pitchers.

“He’s got 2,000 big league innings,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, he’s a guy who’s got a little bit of mileage on him.”

Mattingly also said Hanley Ramirez, who strained a calf muscle Sunday, doesn’t appear to be headed for the disabled list. Ramirez, who also is dealing with an arthritic right shoulder, has played just three innings in the past week. The Dodgers are 5-1 in that span.

Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 9, Cardinals 1

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
7:31
PM PT


LOS ANGELES --Through the first two games of their four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, the offense of the Los Angeles Dodgers had been nonexistent. The bats were bailed out by a brilliant performance from Josh Beckett in Thursday night's 1-0 win, then left Hyun-Jin Ryu out to dry in a 3-1 loss Friday. Apparently, they were saving the fireworks for Saturday, hanging seven runs and nine hits on Cardinals starter Lance Lynn en route to a 9-1 win.

How it happened: The Dodgers were aided by some decidedly non-Cardinal Way defense in the first, when Cardinals shortstop Daniel Descalso muffed a potential inning-ending double-play ball off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, allowing Yasiel Puig to score. In the bottom of the second, the Dodgers pummeled Lynn into submission. RBI doubles by Justin Turner, A.J. Ellis and Dee Gordon were followed by consecutive run-scoring singles from Gonzalez and Matt Kemp, then capped by a bloop double for Andre Ethier. By the time the smoke cleared, the Dodgers had posted six runs (a season high for one inning) and led 7-0.

Hits: The lineup had plenty of stars. Nine different Dodgers had hits, seven knocked in runs, and eight scored. Meanwhile on the mound, Zack Greinke threw a tidy seven innings, giving up one run (a third-inning solo shot from Matt Carpenter) and four hits, striking out 10 with no walks for his 10th win of the year. He matches Adam Wainwright and Alfredo Simon for the National League's high-water mark.

Misses: While the first two innings amounted to a near nonstop Funapalooza of bouncy houses, face painting, and carnival games, there was still some bad news. After Ethier led off the second with a single, Turner laced an RBI double into the right-field corner, but after reaching second he was forced to leave the game with what the Dodgers said was a left hamstring injury. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, playing his first game since June 23 thanks to a right shoulder problem, also left the game in the top of the third.

Stat of the game: Dodgers starters have now walked two or fewer batters in 32 consecutive games, the longest single-season streak by a National League team since 1914, according to Stats LLC.

Up next: The Dodgers wrap up their series with the Cardinals on Sunday with first pitch at 1:10 pm PT. It's a matchup of young phenoms, as St. Louis sends right-hander Shelby Miller (7-6, 3.75) to the mound against Clayton Kershaw (8-2, 2.24). The reigning NL Cy Young winner hasn't given up a run since the third inning of his start against Arizona on June 13, a span of 20 innings that also includes a no-hitter. Over Kershaw's past 37 innings, he has given up four runs (0.97 ERA), walked two and struck out 48.

Ramirez might start, likely available to PH

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
2:47
PM PT
Update: Hanley Ramirez is in the Dodgers' starting lineup.

Los Angeles -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who has missed the last four games with a right shoulder injury, wasn’t included in the lineup manager Don Mattingly posted in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, but that doesn’t mean Ramirez won’t end up on the field Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mattingly didn’t rule out the idea Ramirez might start.

“Possibly Hanley. We’ll see where it goes today (in pregame warmups),” Mattingly said. “I’m not quite sure what he’s going to be able to do out here. Let him stretch, see what happens, and we’ll go from there.”

Ramirez, Mattingly said, is feeling well enough to swing a bat and at the very least is expected to be available for pinch hitting duties. The decision about whether Ramirez might benefit from one more day of rest is ultimately left to the medical staff. Still, just having Ramirez as a bat off the bench makes Mattingly’s life significantly easier.

“You know at that point you have another player. You’re not playing short. You can use a pinch hitter at any point,” he said. “When you don’t have that, it changes what you can do with the other guy. When you use your last infielder to pinch hit, and you’re sitting here with no extra players, you know you can’t hit anywhere else now. It just limits you.”

Ramirez was in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak (13-36, .361) before being forced to the bench after the Dodgers lost in Kansas City on June 23.

Miguel Rojas is currently penciled in as the starting shortstop, batting eighth in front of Dodgers starter Zack Greinke.

Hanley sits again, Clint Robinson arrives

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
4:30
PM PT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Hanley Ramirez missed a second straight start because of irritation in his right shoulder Wednesday, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez did not receive a cortisone injection and could be available to pinch hit.

Ramirez will meet with team orthopedist Neal ElAttrache at Dodger Stadium before Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Mattingly said he didn't know if an MRI exam was ordered on Ramirez's shoulder, which has bothered him off and on since June 10.

Third baseman Juan Uribe is expected to be activated Thursday, Mattingly said. He has been out since May 21 because of a strained right hamstring and finished his minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers brought in a fresh pinch hitter and reserve first baseman, Clint Robinson, purchasing his contract from Triple-A Albuquerque and designating Jamie Romak for assignment.

"Clint can hit. We like the way he swung the bat in spring training," Mattingly said.

Robinson, 29, was batting .309 with 14 home runs for Albuquerque. Romak went just 1-for-21 with the Dodgers. A 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-handed hitter, Robinson played four games for the Kansas City Royals in 2012, so he knew his way to Kauffman Stadium. Albuquerque manager Damon Berryhill told Robinson he was being called up after a game at Iowa, about 200 miles north of here.

Robinson said he was on deck when the fight between prospect Alex Guerrero and veteran catcher Miguel Olivo broke out in the Isotopes dugout last month. During the melee, Olivo bit off part of Guerrero's ear. Guerrero has just resumed baseball activities at the Dodgers' facility in Arizona.

"I was trying to hit with all that going on. It was crazy," Robinson said. "That's definitely the most intense thing I've ever seen on a baseball field, that’s for sure."

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Zack Greinke
WINS ERA SO IP
11 2.90 130 124
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .308
HRA. Gonzalez 15
RBIA. Gonzalez 65
RD. Gordon 54
OPSY. Puig .915
ERAC. Kershaw 1.92
SOC. Kershaw 134