The Dodgers are more than three weeks into their season and Hanley Ramirez still hasn't found his rhythm.
In the aftermath of the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, Ramirez was batting .234. His third-inning single was only his second hit in the last week. He drove a ball to right-center field in the eighth inning, but it failed to reach the warning track.
So far, Ramirez's lack of production hasn't been a significant issue.
The Dodgers remain in first place, in large part because they have won seven of eight games against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks. Adrian Gonzalez has turned himself back into a legitimate power threat and Dee Gordon has been electric on the basepaths.
But at some point, the Dodgers expect Ramirez to be the same hitter who led them to the National League Championship Series last season. You know, the type of hitter teams build lineups around.
For what it's worth, Ramirez said nothing is wrong with the left hand that was struck by a 90-mph fastball last week in San Francisco.
"Normal," Ramirez said.
Coincidentally or not, Ramirez entered Tuesday one for his last 15 since he was plunked by Ryan Vogelsong.
Ramirez joked, "I want to be hurt. Last year, I was hurt and I did better."
In addition to landing on the disabled list because of a broken thumb and strained hamstring last season, Ramirez received constant treatment for back and shoulder problems. He nonetheless finished the regular season with a .345 average.
Ramirez said that even if something was wrong with him physically, he probably wouldn't say so publicly.
But Manager Don Mattingly said he believes Ramirez is healthy.
"I don't think there's any doubt about that," Mattingly said. "If you watch him take BP and watch his actions, he's not swinging the bat like a guy that is bothered by anything.
"That part, I'm not worried about. I just think he's a touch off."
Ramirez offered a similar explanation.
"I just lost a little bit of my timing," he said. "I don't know why."
Ramirez said he is doing what he can to remedy his problems.
"I have to get back on track," he said. "I've been doing everything – getting here early, going in the cage."
He said he feels a sense of urgency.
"I can't wait until May," he said.
That urgency could be impeding Ramirez, according to Mattingly.
"I think he wants to do well," Mattingly said. "He feels like he's seeing the ball good. Any time a guy's seeing the ball good, he feels he should be hitting it hard. The fact that he's not, I think, it causes him to press."
Ramirez will be a free agent at the end of the season, but Mattingly doesn't think Ramirez's contractual status is an issue.
"It doesn't seem to be," Mattingly said. "If it is, he's hiding it pretty well."
Ramirez thinks dealing with injuries in recent seasons has made him more mentally tough, which could help him get out of his funk.
"Those injuries made me tougher, definitely," he said. "I'm not mad or nothing. Sometimes things are not going to go your way, you have to just leave them behind and come back stronger tomorrow."
Ramirez believes his swing could return at any moment.
"Hopefully, just one pitch," he said. "Sometimes it's going to take one pitch, sometimes one at-bat. It's baseball."
"There's going to be one pitch or one swing, he's going to be off and running," Mattingly said.
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