As the Dodgers close out their series with the Braves on Sunday, manager Don Mattingly hopes to have his starting middle infielders back in the lineup. Second baseman Mark Ellis will almost certainly be in the lineup on Sunday against left-handed starter Mike Minor for Atlanta, but shortstop Hanley Ramirez will need medical clearance to start the series finale.
Ramirez pinch hit for the third straight night on Saturday and delivered the Dodgers' only run with a line drive single up the middle in the eighth inning. But after the single Ramirez was removed for pinch runner Clayton Kershaw.
Ramirez has been held out as a precaution with tightness in his right hamstring, and though Mattingly wants to put his shortstop back in the lineup, the manager's postgame comments sounded less optimistic than his pregame words.
"I hope (he plays). It will be a medical decision if he could play. I felt like he was going to be able to play (Saturday) but they told me they don't want him running, it doesn't sound very good because we're going to play in 15 hours and it's not like it's going to miraculously heal by tomorrow," Mattingly said after the game. "But he's saying he could go and stay under control. If medical tells me he can go, he can go."
Ellis is battling a groin injury and has been held out of the lineup for five of the last seven games. But Mattingly expects Ellis to start on Saturday against the southpaw Minor. The last two starts for Ellis have come against left-handed pitchers, against whom Ellis has hit .309/.363/.466 since joining the Dodgers in 2012.
"He's playing under control and his defense is solid, so it's not affecting that. I think the biggest thing it's affecting is his timing at the plate," Mattingly said. "He's dealt with so many injuries, it just seems like his timing hasn't come back yet."
Ellis is hitless in his last 17 at-bats, and doesn't have a hit since May 31. But it goes deeper than that. Since returning from the disabled list on May 19, Ellis is just 8-for-56 (.143).
- Matt Kemp continues to rehab his strained right hamstring, and manager Don Mattingly said Kemp would likely miss the minimum 15 days and rejoin the Dodgers on Friday in Pittsburgh for a three-game weekend series,. Mattingly said Kemp would need to play in a minor league rehab "game or two" before getting activated, and those games would come with Triple-A Albuquerque as the Isotopes are in Round Rock, Texas for a four-game series from Monday to Thursday.
- A.J. Ellis, on the disabled list with a strained oblique, is on the same timetable as Kemp, expected to be ready to return on Friday. Ellis hit on Friday and Saturday with no pain. Ellis will likely join Kemp in Round Rock for a minor league rehab game or two.
- Chris Capuano threw without feeling anything in his lat or his calf on Friday, and is inline to rejoin the Dodgers as soon as Friday, the same as Kemp or Ellis. The Dodgers have off days on both Thursday, June 13 and Monday, June 17, which allows them some flexibility in their starting rotation order. But whether Capuano is needed to start on Friday in Pittsburgh or whenever, he is expected to be available. "When we need a starter again, he'll be ready," Mattingly said.
- Andre Ethier fouled a ball off his right ankle on Saturday and was seen limping noticeably as he left the Dodgers clubhouse.