Dodgers double tagged by Reds’ Johnny Cueto, injury to Hanley Ramirez
The game had been over for about an hour. The clubhouse had emptied, nearly all of the players and coaches already gone. Hanley Ramirez walked in, his postgame routine delayed by a round of treatment on his right shoulder.
Ramirez could not throw without discomfort Wednesday. The Dodgers scratched him from the lineup after the shoulder stiffened during batting practice, Manager Don Mattingly said, and they do not anticipate he will play Thursday.
The Dodgers were an ornery bunch during a 5-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, chirping about what they considered a strike zone far too generous to pitcher Johnny Cueto. Matt Kemp got ejected and Yasiel Puig almost did.
The Dodgers did not mean to slight Cueto (6-5), who struck out 12 batters in six innings. The heart of the Dodgers batting order — Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Kemp and his replacement, Scott Van Slyke — combined for one hit in 11 at-bats, with nine strikeouts.
But the rancor should blow over with a good night’s rest and a different umpire behind the plate. A lingering injury to Ramirez would be a much bigger story.
For now, the Dodgers list his status as day to day and describe the injury as an irritation in the shoulder joint. He can swing a bat, and he did pinch-hit Wednesday, but he cannot throw without soreness. Mattingly said he had not heard about the condition before Wednesday; Ramirez said he had dealt with it for “a couple days.”
The Dodgers have little depth behind Ramirez. Justin Turner, who is the backup shortstop, is now starting at third base because of an injury to Juan Uribe. The next-best options are good-field, no-hit prospects Miguel Rojas and Erisbel Arruebarrena.
There is a bigger picture too, and that is Ramirez’s pending free agency. The Dodgers said as early as last summer that they wanted to sign him to a new contract. They still say they want to do so, but the lack of a deal makes clear they want to see him stay healthy first. He will be 31 next season, and a new deal could require a $100-million commitment.
Ramirez was limited to 86 games last season because of injuries to his thumb, hamstring and back, and that does not include the fractured rib that forced him out of the National League Championship Series.
He has not been on the disabled list this season, but he did not make one start because of a bruised thumb and three more because of a sore calf. Those injuries were not considered major, and neither is this one, but the cumulative effect could be hard for the Dodgers to escape.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Ramirez said. “We’re playing well. Nothing negative right now.”
Ramirez said he is not worried about what effect any injury might have on the likelihood of negotiating a new contract with the Dodgers.
“Contract,” he scoffed, drawing out the syllables and rolling his eyes. “I don’t care about that. I’m just focused on winning right now.”
Mattingly said he does not feel any pressure in trying to balance the need of his team to field a healthy starting nine and the need of Ramirez to get in the lineup and produce.
“I don’t worry about the other stuff,” Mattingly said. “We’re trying to win games, simple as that.
“You always want to protect the player. If they’re banged up, we try and protect them. We don’t want anybody to go out there at half-speed. I can’t worry about contracts.”
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