Dodgers’ offensive struggles could be related to absence of Manny Ramirez

It’s no coincidence that the Dodgers’ bats largely had gone into hiding after slugger Manny Ramirez went on the disabled list a week ago, Manager Joe Torre said Friday.

The Dodgers opened the season with one of the best offenses in baseball, and the team was batting .311 on April 22, the day before Ramirez went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.

Without Ramirez, who was hitting. 415 when he was injured, the Dodgers were shut out three times in five games, and their team batting average had dropped to .273 entering Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I can’t say it’s unrelated,” Torre said, adding that it partly reflected Dodgers hitters trying too hard to make up for Ramirez’s absence.

“It’s pressing, definitely,” Torre said. “Now, it may have started as [a reaction to] Manny, but right now they’ve sort of lost their way a little bit.”

As for Ramirez’s status, Torre said that “if everything keeps going the way it’s going, we’re looking at a possible rehab in the middle of [next] week,” that is, a rehabilitation game or two in the minor leagues.

Before Friday’s game, Ramirez, 37, ran sprints across the Dodger Stadium outfield along with other running drills under the supervision of head trainer Stan Conte.

Asked if the left fielder could quickly bounce back, Torre said, “He worked so hard all winter on getting his timing back and his balance back, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”

After his 50-game suspension last season for violating baseball’s drug policy, Ramirez struggled and Torre blamed it on Ramirez’s attempt “to hit [the] long ball.”

“We witnessed how much better he is this year just by hitting line drives all over the place,” Torre said.

Injury update

Right-handed pitcher Jeff Weaver, also on the disabled list with a low back strain, said he planned to throw a simulated game Saturday as he prepared to return.

Weaver said he planned “to throw about 45 pitches and go from there, but right now it feels good.”

Asked if there was any reason that he might not come off the disabled list May 7 as scheduled, Weaver replied, “I hope not, I’m going crazy” not playing.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal, meanwhile, likely would not play this weekend because of a sore left hamstring, Torre said. “My guess is he’ll miss this [Pittsburgh] series and then, with the off-day Monday, let’s hope for the next series starting Tuesday” against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium.

Anderson’s slump

Garret Anderson was batting .122 entering Friday’s game, which Torre said was a “timing” problem at the plate. But Torre backed the former Angels star.

“He’s really a class act and doesn’t go and hide, so he’ll hopefully get his timing back,” Torre said. “I’ll use him in a key spot tonight if I need him, because I know if I’m sitting in the other dugout he scares the heck out of me.”

And finally

Torre owns a minority stake in the horse Homeboykris, who is running in the Kentucky Derby, and he plans to watch the race on his office television before Saturday’s game against the Pirates.

Buy Dodgers tickets here

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.