Right as their offense started breaking out of a two-week slumber, the Dodgers were struck Saturday by a potential disaster.
Hanley Ramirez was in pain.
Specifically, Ramirez had a bruised right thumb, the same thumb on which the three-time All-Star underwent an operation last year for a torn ligament.
X-rays were negative and Ramirez was listed as day to day.
"I'm hoping it's not too bad," Manager Don Mattingly said.
Ramirez was removed after three innings of the Dodgers' 6-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies, a game that was preceded with news that Clayton Kershaw might return from the disabled list earlier than expected.
Ramirez was in visible discomfort after his at-bat in a three-run third inning in which he grounded out to drive in a run.
When Ramirez returned to the bench, he repeatedly shook his right hand. He tried to grip a baseball, then a bat. He spoke several times to trainer Stan Conte.
Ramirez was about to take the field for the fourth inning, only to be stopped by Conte on the dugout steps. The shortstop offered little resistance.
Even before the injury, Ramirez was scheduled to be out of the lineup Sunday. With the Dodgers not playing Monday, Ramirez will get at least two days off.
Ramirez downplayed the severity of the injury.
"We're good," Ramirez said. "It's just sore. I got jammed."
He said the tip of his thumb was numb.
"It had nothing to do with the surgery," he said.
The Dodgers were already playing with a short bench. Ramirez's departure left them with only three reserves.
Ramirez is batting .272, but was hitting the ball with greater authority in recent days. In his first at-bat Saturday, he doubled to right-center field.
Ramirez was the team's offensive leader last season and his slow start has without question affected the Dodgers. Before Saturday, the team had lost five of the eight games they had played on their current homestand.
After scoring 22 runs in a three-game road sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks this month, the Dodgers' bats have been silent. In the 12 games the Dodgers have played since the Diamondbacks series, they have scored two or fewer runs six times.
The Dodgers entered Saturday averaging 3.96 runs per game, which ranked eighth in the National League.
But in games against teams other than the last-place Diamondbacks, the Dodgers were averaging only 3.19 runs per game. That would put them second-to-last in the NL.
The Dodgers are 7-1 against the Diamondbacks. Through Friday, they were 6-10 against everyone else.
At this stage of the season, Adrian Gonzalez said there was no reason to be concerned.
"It hasn't been the best homestand, but it's still April," he said. "We have a winning record. This is a long season. We were in last place at this point last year."
The Dodgers ranked 10th in the NL in home runs last year. They are in the top five this year.
"We have a lot of guys who have carried their clubs, who have been the guy on the club in the past," Mattingly said. "Now, there's really no one guy here. We've got a lot of good players and that's when you work together to move the runner, be the guy who gets the guy over, who gets on base to start the rally."
Saturday, the Dodgers reversed a 1-0 deficit in an electrifying third inning, which Dee Gordon led off with a triple to right-center field. Puig was struck by a pitch from Juan Nicasio, putting men at the corners.
Ramirez grounded out to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, allowing Gordon to score and Puig to reach third base. Puig scored on a sacrifice fly by Gonzalez to move the Dodgers in front, 2-1. Matt Kemp added a run on a home run.
The Dodgers hit another home run in the fifth inning, when Gonzalez hit his eighth of the season. Last year, Gonzalez didn't hit his eighth home run until June 3.
The home run also counted as the 1,500th hit of Gonzalez's career.
There was also a positive development for the rotation, as Kershaw reported no problems in the wake of pitching in a minor league game the previous night.
In fact, Kershaw is now pushing to move up his return from the disabled list, according to Mattingly.
Kershaw wants his next start to be in the major leagues, presumably on the Dodgers' upcoming three-city trip.
The medical staff would like him to pitch another game in the minor leagues.
Kershaw declined to comment.
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