Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez took another step in his recovery from a strained left hamstring on Friday, but the club is playing it safe, not trying to rush his return to action. Ramirez took batting practice before the Dodgers played the Cardinals on Friday night, something he also did on the previous road trip. But what Ramirez added was running in curves, something he hasn't done since injuring his hamstring on May 3.
Ramirez said on Friday that he has been running only in straight lines at about 80-85% effort, and that he was anxious to return.
"I've been trying to come back," Ramirez said with a wide grin. "They won't let me."
Manager Don Mattingly is pleased by the progress, but wants to make sure Ramirez is at full strength before returning to the Dodgers.
"Hanley is doing better. He's still not there yet. We're a ways away. He's doing a lot of baseball stuff. I don't think he's quite as close as it seems," Mattingly said. "It's a little bit like Mark Ellis, where you feel like it might be ready to go, but it will be seven days before that thing is 100%."
Ramirez agreed, and sought the advice of Matt Kemp, who missed 51 out of 53 games in 2012 with a pair of left hamstring strains, including missing six weeks after coming back early from the first injury.
"It's why we've got to be careful. It's only been three weeks. You have to be 100%. It can go at any time," Ramirez said. "I don't want to come back early and be back on the DL for two months."
Mattingly said Ramirez would likely need to play four or five minor league rehab games before returning, and that the shortstop has not reached the point where the medical staff has cleared him. The original diagnosis after the May 3 injury was that Ramirez would miss four to six weeks.
"I'm not the guy having the talk with Hanley about if you're ready or not. I am the one throwing some caution out there every once in a while about slowing down," Mattingly said. "Hanley told me he was going to be ready today, last week. I am trying to hold him back a little because I know he is not ready yet."
Ramirez has played just four games this season. He missed the first 24 games of the season after surgery to repair a dislocated right thumb. The splint is already off his hand and though Ramirez can't yet fully bend his thumb he expects to have full range of motion back by the time he returns to the Dodgers.