Hanley Ramirez met the local media for the first time on Monday, before the Dodgers' series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ramirez said the usual welcoming things that players say when they join a new organization.
"This organization has a lot of history and tradition. I grew up in the Dominican watching this organization," Ramirez said. "Leaving my family behind, that was the hard thing. But coming here to a contender, knowing that I can win some championships here, it's a very happy time for me and my family."
Ramirez said he has been taking ground balls at shortstop for the last two days, along with taking ground balls at third. Though he played shortstop for six years in Miami, Ramirez hasn't played the position since last season so the transition isn't as immediate as simply writing his name in the lineup and hoping for the best.
Manager Don Mattingly said that once he does move Ramirez to shortstop he doesn't intend to move him back and forth between shortstop and third base. Ramirez at shortstop gives the Dodgers more opportunities to get Jerry Hairston Jr. into the lineup at third base.
Current shortstop Luis Cruz could fill in at both second and third base, though Mattingly acknowledged that with the way "Cruzer" is playing now it does make it harder to move him. But that doesn't mean it won't happen once Ramirez is ready to play shortstop.
It was telling when Mattingly was asked why Cruz hasn't faded like Elian Herrera did.
"Elian was here a while, it's still a daily process," Mattingly said.
Indeed, after 89 plate appearances Herrera was hitting .289/.386/.368 and was a few days removed from back-to-back game-winning hits in Philadelphia. Cruz after 89 plate appearances is hitting .268/.307/.439.
With all due respect to Cruz, he is not someone to build a lineup around and can easily be moved. After all, you never know when that .204/.275/.301 stretch (Herrera's final 101 plate appearances before getting optioned to Triple A) could come.
But back to Ramirez for a moment, he was reluctant to talk of his time with the Marlins, preferring to focus on the present and his future with the Dodgers. Asked if he had the attitude problems that were reported in Miami, Ramirez said with a smile, "I don't think so, I'm just honest."
Mattingly has a similar outlook on Ramirez.
"When guys come in they get a clean slate. It gives them a chance to say, 'You know what, if something went on in my past that I don't like, with a new organization, I'm moving forward'," Mattingly said. "He's got that big smile and he plays with some joy, and I like that. He's a little bit like Matt, because you see him on the bench with that smile on his face, and he's been energetic."
Lilly To Start Again Friday With Rancho
Ted Lilly, who threw two scoreless innings in a rehab start with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday, will start again for the Quakes on Friday as they are in Lake Elsinore. Lilly threw in the bullpen after his start on Sunday, throwing approximately 45 pitches in total including his game action. He is expected to pitch three innings on Friday, followed by a bullpen session, totaling 60 pitches on Friday, and up to four innings and 75 total pitches with a bullpen session in the start after that.
"For Teddy we looked at three starts if everything would go perfect, to get him built up to the point that he's not a guy to throw 70 pitches and you have to go to your bullpen," Mattingly said.
The best case scenario for Lilly's return to the Dodgers would be August 13, when they open up a four-game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.
Whether or not Lilly will be simply replacing Stephen Fife or giving the Dodgers six established starters for five spots remains to be seen. But Mattingly believes his team will look different after Tuesday afternoon's trade deadline.
"I know we're still working on stuff," Mattingly said "I anticipate us to do something."
Mattingly also anticipated that Rubby De La Rosa, who pitched three scoreless inning on Sunday in Rancho Cucamonga, would be more likely to have a relief role for the Dodgers in September rather than starting.
New Diamondback acquisition Chris Johnson will make his Arizona debut on Monday night, starting at third base and batting seventh for the Diamondbacks. Johnson will wear number 28.
To make room for Johnson on the roster, Arizona designated Lyle Overbay for assignment.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket