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Hanley Ramirez getting closer to return to lineup

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Ramirez is hitting .359/.410/.641 with 11 home runs, 17 doubles, 37 runs scored and 37 RBI in 55 games this season for the Dodgers. Sunday marks his seventh straight game not starting after jamming his shoulder, though the shortstop participated in fielding practice for the first time in a week.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hanley Ramirez fielded ground balls and threw across the diamond on Sunday before the Dodgers battle the Rays in the finale of their three-game series. It marked the first time the shortstop has tested his shoulder throwing on the field since jamming his shoulder last Sunday at Wrigley Field.

Before Ramirez began taking grounders and throwing, the first time the Dodgers had on-field batting and fielding practice during this three game series — after arriving home late Friday morning and a day game Saturday — manager Don Mattingly said it would likely be a few days before Ramirez is inserted into the starting lineup.

"Another day would be pretty optimistic," Mattingly said. "We're not quite there yet."

Ramirez, who has been cleared to hit and made one pinch hitting appearance in this series — a strikeout Friday night — felt something while playing catch on Friday. Mattingly wouldn't call it a setback, but rather a gauge.

"When he tried to throw the other day he found out he wasn't really ready to throw, but other than that we're still in the same spot," said Mattingly.

Had the Dodgers immediately placed Ramirez on the disabled list, he wouldn't have been eligible to return until Tuesday, Aug. 20, when the Dodgers are in Miami.

"We've missed him six days and we're 5-1," Mattingly said. "We've been able to survive it so far. But let's say he misses 10 days. This still saves us five."

Mattingly did acknowledge that Ramirez could surprise him and be ready to play sooner rather than later.

"I can't see him chucking it across the diamond, but with Hanley you never know. He ends up kind of just going," Mattingly said. "We'll see where we're at."

Ramirez, after Mattingly spoke to reporters, did throw several balls across the diamond, and also hit several balls over the fence during batting practice.

Perhaps the optimistic outlook could come to fruition. At the very least, it seems likely that Ramirez will be in the lineup at some point during the series against the Mets, which runs Monday to Wednesday. Now it's just a matter of which day.

Game info

Time: 5:05 p.m.

TV: ESPN

MLB Gameday