COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Dodgers have been hit hard by injuries in the season's first six weeks. No team has endured as many significant injuries as the Dodgers.
Hanley Ramirez began the season on the disabled list with a torn thumb ligament. He came back, roughly three weeks ahead of schedule, and was injured again. Luckily -- on some level -- it was his hamstring and not his hand. His estimated disabled list time is four-to-six weeks.
With the team struggling to score runs, losing Ramirez, again, is a big blow. The Dodgers rank sixth in the majors in on-base percentage (.333), but are 28th in runs scored (109, or 3.4 per game). That doesn't make a lot of sense. But when one sees the team's batting average with runners in scoring position (.212, 57-for-269), it makes just a little sense.
The starting pitching staff isn't without fault, either. It's been hit hard by injuries -- Chad Billingsley (out for the season after Tommy John surgery), Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, Zack Greinke and Ted Lilly have all spent time on the disabled list.
But there is some good news to be had. Greinke is "close" to beginning a minor-league rehab assignment. He'd likely pitch for the Class High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, as they are the affiliate located closest to Los Angeles.
Greinke was injured on April 11 when San Diego Padres' outfielder Carlos Quentin foolishly and inexplicably charged the mound after Greinke hit him with a pitch. Greinke fractured his collarbone, had surgery and was set to miss eight weeks.
However, Greinke must be a distant relative of Superman because his recovery time, thus far, has been remarkable.
He's already thrown a couple of bullpen sessions with no setbacks. Once he's ready, he'll go off on assignment.
I was fully prepared for the Dodgers to be without their high-priced free agent until the middle of June or even longer. If Greinke thinks he's good to go, I'm not going to question him. He's one of the sharpest, honest and most analytic players in baseball.
I questioned just last week whether Ramirez was coming back too soon, but his new injury is unrelated to his previous one. However, he was seen shaking his right hand a couple times in the four games (three full, one pinch-hit appearance) in which he played.
Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been fantastic this season, while Greinke was good in his two starts. Other than them, the rotation has been a mess. The Dodgers have used nine starting pitchers so far, which wouldn't be news if this were September. Alas, it's May and it might get a little worse before it gets better.
Capuano has looked less-than-good in his appearances while rookie Matt Magill has been on opposite sides of the pitching spectrum thus far. Some have even wondered if top prospect Zach Lee could make an appearance in Los Angeles this season. That's not a reflection of his ability; it's a reflection of how desperate the Dodgers are for innings right now.
While the Dodgers will be without Ramirez until the All-Star break, an early (healthy) return from Greinke could be a catalytic moment for a team in dire need of a jump-start.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
- Sports & Recreation
- Zack Greinke
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Hanley Ramirez