The Dodgers will go for their third consecutive win on Friday night as they open a three-game series with the Rays at Dodger Stadium. They won't have Hanley Ramirez in the lineup during the weekend series, but the shortstop could be available to pinch hit.
Manager Don Mattingly was asked if he was confident that Ramirez, who has missed four games since jamming his right shoulder on Sunday at Wrigley Field, would make an appearance during the weekend series against the Rays.
"Yeah, definitely," Mattingly said.
What about Friday night?
"Maybe," siad Mattingly. "We'll see."
Ramirez hit in the batting cages off live pitching on Friday, his second straight day doing so.
"He came in today good. After he hits again in the cages we'll see where we're at. We're going in the right direction with Hanley," Mattingly said. "Throwing is probably going to come after hitting."
Ramirez mentioned he might be ready to play the field this weekend but Mattingly didn't think so, because the shortstop hadn't thrown before a pregame workout Friday. It sounds like a trip to the disabled list will be avoided, and as of now there are no plans for Ramirez to have an MRI, something that won't be done unless he stalls in his comeback.
"We're just happy right now. He's feeling a lot better. The fact that he's talking about that is good news for us. When they said it might be only a DL and a 15-day situation when it first happened, we were happy with that," Mattingly said. "He's feeling good, but we're trying to be a little careful."
Nick Punto gets the start at shortstop Friday night, his third start at the position since Ramirez was hurt. Dee Gordon has started the other two games at shortstop this week, but also played 15 games at second base in Triple-A Albuquerque. But Mattingly said it would be unlikely to see Gordon play second for the Dodgers this time around, with Mark Ellis and Skip Schumaker continuing to fill the position.
"I don't really see him at second, with Mark and Schu. Those are our guys at second," Mattingly said. "(Gordon) will keep taking some ground balls there but he's right now, I talked to him the other day, he needs to take the majority of his work at short, because until Hanley's back that's where he's going to play."
The Dodgers arrived back in Los Angeles at 3 a.m. PT on Friday morning from St. Louis, and the lineup shows it. Andre Ethier is sitting against left-hander David Price, with another lefty in his place in Skip Schumaker. Carl Crawford, 0-for-9 in his career against Price, sits as well, with Jerry Hairston starting in left field despite his 0-for-5 mark against the southpaw. Yasiel Puig makes his fourth start in center field.
"It was a little bit of everything. I kind of did the same thing when we got into Chicago a little bit late" Mattingly said. "The matchup with Price, Carl didn't have a whole lot of success. It seemed like the right day for everybody, with the day game tomorrow."
Crawford hit .419 (13-for-31) on the road trip, which also included a day off, the second game of the Chicago series. Crawford had played the last six days.
"He's been going pretty good. We're finding out the more I can keep him in there, the better he swings it. But he also needs his days, and this was the right day for me," Mattingly said. "We're trying to figure out the combination of too much and not enough."
Because they got in late, the Dodgers did not take batting practice on the field before Friday's game.
Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket