The Hanley Ramirez plan

Norm Hall

The Dodgers plan several off days for their shortstop in the final two weeks of the regular season in an attempt to have Hanley Ramirez fully ready for the playoffs.

PHOENIX -- Hanley Ramirez is out of the Dodgers' starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks, and he'll likely be out for Thursday afternoon's finale as well. That is all according to plan, according to manager Don Mattingly.

"Whatever we have to do to get him right," Mattingly said. "It's going to be a matter of keeping him sharp but getting plenty of rest."

Ramirez missed four games with an irritated nerve in his back, but returned Tuesday night and reached base four times. He scored three runs.

Mattingly said Ramirez felt fine today outside of the general soreness from returning to the field after not playing for five days. The plan for Ramirez, concocted with director of medical services Stan Conte, is for Ramirez to play but also mix in several off days before the playoffs.

"The way Stan said we could use Hanley is to have him play a day, maybe off a few days, trying to keep him sharp but get him totally ready," Mattingly said. "I don't think Hanley feels Hanley is 100%, and we're not going to throw him out there until he is comfortable."

The plan is similar to how Ramirez was used in June when he returned from the disabled list after missing 28 games with a left hamstring strain. He was limited to four pinch hitting appearances in a seven-day span then returned to the lineup on June 14. One week later the Dodgers started their 53-13 run that has propelled them to the brink of a division title.

Ramirez did not take part in batting practice or workouts with the team before Tuesday's game.

On the season Ramirez is hitting .343/.397/.633 with 18 home runs in 80 games.

"Obviously he's a pretty big chunk in the middle. He's shown that he hits good pitching, he's dangerous when he gets on base, and he's played good short for us," Mattingly said. "He's a big force in the middle of our lineup."

Nick Punto gets the start at shortstop for the Dodgers on Wednesday night.

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