Turns out Hanley Ramirez is afraid of needles.
"When I was a kid I used to be sick all the time," Ramirez said Saturday. "They used to put a lot of needles in my body, so I just got afraid."
Lately, the Dodgers shortstop has been forced to confront that fear. Friday he had two cortisone injections for an irritated nerve in his back. And for most of the season he has been getting regular acupuncture to treat the same problem, which he says has become chronic over the last three years.
"That's one of the reasons that nerve has been feeling better. We do a lot of acupuncture," said Ramirez, who repeatedly praised the Dodgers' medical staff. "Before I got here I didn't know about acupuncture, didn't know about a lot of stuff. Everything that I've been able to do this year on the field, it's because of the trainers."
And Ramirez has certainly gotten to know the trainers since joining the Dodgers in a trade with the Miami Marlins 14 months ago. Surgery on his right thumb and a strained left hamstring forced him to spend two extended stays on the disabled list this season. Then more tightness in the hamstring forced him back to the sideline Thursday.
An exam traced the problem to the nerve in his back, which Ramirez said will force him to sit out a couple of more games. He hopes to return to the lineup during the series in Arizona that starts Monday.
Saturday's updates on the other injured Dodgers, outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, were also encouraging.
Ethier came out of Friday's game because of an ankle problem that Manager Don Mattingly likened to shin splints, something he said should improve with rest.
Kemp continues to rehabilitate at the Dodgers' training facility in Arizona, where he hit against live pitching and ran the bases Saturday. Kemp will probably rejoin the team Monday in Phoenix.
With the Dodgers running short of healthy outfielders, the team called up Alex Castellanos and Nick Buss. Both finished the season at triple-A Albuquerque two weeks ago but have been working out in Arizona in case they were needed.
Castellanos, who appeared in four games with the Dodgers this season, batted .257 with 19 home runs in Albuquerque and Buss, who has yet to play in the majors, batted .303 with 17 home runs and a league-high 101 runs batted in.
To make room for Buss on the 40-man roster, pitcher Jose Dominguez was transferred to the 60-day DL because of a left quadriceps strain.
Chris Capuano is still sore
Left-hander Chris Capuano has had a setback in his effort to get back on the mound, experiencing some pain in his strained left groin at the end of a 30-pitch bullpen session Friday.
"The last couple felt like it wasn't quite 100%," said Capuano, who was throwing off a mound for the first time since taking himself out of his last start nine days ago.
Mattingly said there is no schedule for when Capuano will next try to throw off a mound.
Steve Dilbeck contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times