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Dodgers can afford to show extra caution with Hanley Ramirez

Hanley RamirezDon MattinglyNational League WestWrigley FieldMatt Kemp

Hanley Ramirez, the lighting rod that really ignited the Dodgers offense, remains on the shelf because of a sore shoulder. And there should be absolutely no hurry to get him off it.

Ramirez took infield and batting practice for the second consecutive day Monday, and Manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez was available to pinch-hit. Maybe he would start Tuesday, but if not then probably Friday.

There’s no way Ramirez should start Tuesday. Let him have the extra time. The Dodgers have a day off Thursday, so Mattingly said that if he doesn’t start Ramirez on Tuesday, it’s likely Ramirez will have Wednesday off too.

Ramirez jammed his right shoulder Aug. 4 when he spilled over the short left-field wall at Chicago's Wrigley Field after catching a foul ball. He has avoided the disabled list and made a pinch-hitting appearance Friday.

But Ramirez admitted the shoulder is still sore when he swings and throws. So give him as much time as possible.

The Dodgers haven’t had the best of luck with shoulder injuries (see: Matt Kemp) and Ramirez had surgery on his other shoulder. The Dodgers have a 7½-game lead in the National League West. They are continuing to play well without him. And he has been on the disabled list twice this season.

The Dodgers can afford to be extra cautious. They have to be quietly thinking about the postseason. And that’s when Ramirez really will be needed, not for a three-game series in mid-August in Philadelphia.

“I’m trying to stay away from him as much as I can, as long as I can,” Mattingly said. “But when he’s healthy, he’s going to play.”

Mattingly said he will leave it up to the medical staff and to Ramirez to determine the shortstop's return. When Ramirez injured his hamstring in June, the Dodgers could barely hold him back. He kept telling them he was ready to go until they relented.

He doesn’t sound the same this time, an indication he is not feeling as confident in the shoulder yet. There is no hurry, just a time to utilize extra caution.

 

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