Hanley Ramirez will return to the Dodgers lineup at shortstop on Wednesday, manager Don Mattingly said before Tuesday's game against the Mets at Dodger Stadium. The shortstop has been held out of the lineup for nine game since jamming his shoulder at Wrigley Field on Aug. 4.
Mattingly said there have been "no issues" with Ramirez, who is available to pinch hit if needed on Tuesday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
Ramirez is hitting .359/.410/.641 with 11 home runs and 17 doubles in 55 games this season. He missed 24 games to open the season after surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament, and missed another 28 games with a strained left hamstring in May.
Ramirez was used as a pinch hitter once in the last eight games, when he struck out on Friday against the Rays. He played light catch on Friday but felt something in his shoulder. He has taken grounders and thrown across the diamond since Sunday, and improved to the point where he has been cleared by the medical staff.
Had the Dodgers placed Ramirez on the disabled list at the time of the injury he wouldn't have been eligible to return until next Tuesday, Aug. 20. Starting Wednesday gives Ramirez the opportunity for as many as five starts before he would have been otherwise eligible to play, which fits the plan laid out by Mattingly on Sunday.
"We've missed him six days and we're 5-1," Mattingly said on Sunday. "We've been able to survive it so far. But let's say he misses 10 days. This still saves us five."
It has worked out even better than that, as the Dodgers are now 7-1 without Ramirez and his replacements at shortstop have hit in every game. Nick Punto, on Tuesday starting his sixth game at shortstop since Ramirez was sidelined, homered on Monday and is 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles and four walks in that span. Dee Gordon, who made three errors in the field on Sunday, is 5-for-12 (.417) with a walk since his call-up a day after Ramirez was hurt.
The Dodgers have an off day Thursday before beginning a road trip Friday in Philadelphia with a weekend series against the Phillies.
The Dodgers are 33-14 when Ramirez starts this season, and 35-36 when he doesn't.