Before Tuesday night's game against the Padres, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez took batting practice, hitting off a tee and light tossing for the second straight day, his first action hitting since having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb on Mar. 22. Ramirez vowed to return well before the diagnosed eight weeks, which would be May 17.
Manager Don Mattingly was similarly excited but less specific than Ramirez.
"He was in there swinging, and he looks good. Hanley's moving forward, that's for sure," Mattingly said. "I'm going out on a limb and saying it's not going to be eight weeks."
Ramirez would be a welcome addition to a lineup struggling to score and putting up less than three runs per contest. While praising the defensive exploits of Justin Sellers and Luis Cruz at shortstop, Mattingly knows they are lacking offensively.
"I've got two shortstops, Sellers and Cruz," he said. "So take your pick, really."
Mattingly said that he didn't see Nick Punto as more than an occasional fill in at the position, and that the club had no plans to call up Dee Gordon to play shortstop with Ramirez out. Dodgers shortstops have combined to hit .167/.250/.238 (7-for-42) with one home run, two runs batted in, and one run scored this season.
- Chris Capuano has a pitch count likely in the 90-100 pitch range, in his first start of the season and first time stretched out since Mar. 25. "Like anyone else in their first time out, if he's between 90-100 (pitches), we'll be thinking about it," Mattingly said.
- Ted Lilly is pitching tonight for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga in Lake Elsinore, facing a Padres minor league team that has a rehabbing Chase Headley on it. Mattingly wouldn't commit to Capuano in the starting rotation beyond Tuesday. "You're asking me to predict the future, and I'm not very good at that. Right now, Cap is starting tonight and Teddy is throwing tonight, and we'll see where it goes from here," he said.
- Carl Crawford, who had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Aug. 23, has been cleared by Dodgers trainers to throw without restriction now. "I'm glad to hear that because I think he's been throwing the ball pretty good, but I don't feel like he feels like he could let it go. But when the trainers tell you it's time, it makes you feel good," Mattingly said.
- Cameron Maybin was a late lineup scratch for the Padres. Chris Denorfia, who was originally slated to start in right field, moves to center field, and Kyle Blanks starts in right field.
- My favorite pregame exchange was between Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times and Mattingly:
- Dilbeck: "When you get to Baltimore and you need a DH, are you going to hit Kershaw or Ryu?"
- Mattingly: "You know what my dad said about that? There are 1,000 comedians out of work and you're trying to be funny."
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT