COMMENTARY | It was the last day of the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic had yet to lose a game. The Los Angeles Dodgers had yet to lose a player in the WBC to injury.
One of those stories came to an end March 19, and the Dominican Republic's championship trophy says it's the latter.
Hanley Ramirez jammed his thumb March 20 in the WBC championship game against Puerto Rico. He wanted to stay in the game, but Dominican manager Tony Pena removed him after three innings for precautionary reasons.
Good thing Pena did as Ramirez tore a ligament in his thumb, which will require surgery. He'll be out at least eight weeks. The initial speculation is he could miss 2-10 weeks.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had previously toyed with Ramirez hitting leadoff for the team this season, but he was more likely going to be the team's No. 5 hitter. The loss of Ramirez impacts both of those spots in the lineup and two spots on the field.
I thought Ramirez should be the leadoff man for 2013 and beyond, but I also understand the need to hit him lower in the order. With Carl Crawford's uncertain status for opening day, Ramirez's bat will put a little more pressure on guys like Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier -- likely the team's 3-4-5 at this point.
Mattingly said Luis Cruz is going to slide from third base to shortstop and there will be a committee of Dodgers to play third base. Cruz's bat plays much better at shortstop and his defense shouldn't be an issue. But the player who stands to benefit most from Ramirez's injury -- if it's a long-term injury -- is Juan Uribe.
The failed signing two winters ago, Uribe has hit just .199/.262/.289 with six home runs, 45 RBIs and a horrifically bad 54 OPS+ in 143 games as a Dodger. Not exactly the most inspiring stat line. Luckily for Dodgers fans … I can't even finish that sentence. There is nothing lucky about Uribe potentially getting consistent playing time.
Another potential beneficiary of the injury could be Dee Gordon. Gordon sprained his ankle March 18, but Mattingly said Gordon should be good to go come March 22. He's having a nice spring, posting a .405 on-base percentage thus far. He'll need to do a lot to potentially end up as the team's starting shortstop opening day.
The Ramirez injury not only takes away a potential leadoff man or middle-of-the-order bat, but it also allows one of the worst players in Dodgers history to get playing time in Uribe. For a team with sky-high expectations, that isn't a good thing.
I like the WBC and Ramirez could have hurt his thumb in the same manner while playing for the Dodgers this spring, but Ramirez picked about the worst time to suffer the injury (as if he had a choice). Until he's back, it's going to be a lot of below-league-average production from the hot corner -- even worse than if Cruz was the everyday third baseman, as was the original plan.
And the offense at shortstop isn't going to be Ramirez-esque, either.
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
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Hanley Ramirez