COMMENTARY | Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was supposed to be out of action for eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his thumb in March, was reinstated from the disabled list on April 29 -- at least two weeks ahead of schedule.
Clayton Kershaw, who is dealing with a personal matter, was placed on the bereavement list. He's still in line to start May 3 against the San Francisco Giants.
Ramirez played two rehab games in Rancho Cucamonga with the Class High-A Quakes on April 27 and 28. He went 3-for-6 with a double and run scored. He also logged 12 innings at shortstop -- the position the Dodgers need him to play because Justin Sellers and Luis Cruz have struggled so incredibly much.
But is Ramirez coming back too soon?
Only Ramirez knows for sure. If he's 100 percent healthy, then he'll be just fine. If he isn't, however, it could be much more detrimental to the Dodgers.
There are a number of reasons for him rushing back: he wants to help the team, he's eager to play or -- and it better not be this -- he wants to play on his bobblehead night.
The Dodgers are giving away "I See You" bobbleheads on April 30. A player wanting to play on his bobblehead giveaway night is fine, but not if he's rushing back from a pretty significant injury to do so. The long-term health of Ramirez is vital for the Dodgers' success going forward.
The left side of the Dodgers' infield hasn't produced. Sellers is hitting a poor .213/.294/.279. At least he's walking -- a little bit. Cruz is hitting significantly worse: .098/.130/.098. That isn't a typo. And the only reason Cruz's on-base percentage is higher than his average is because of the intentional walk he was issued in the first game of the season.
The Dodgers desperately need offensive production on the left side of the infield, but they need a fully healthy Ramirez even more. It won't do the Dodgers any good for Ramirez to reinjure himself and miss possibly the rest of the season because he wanted to rush back from his injury.
It's clear the Dodgers are going to have to make a move for a third baseman or shortstop. Seeing as Ramirez's bat plays better at the position and there really isn't much difference between his defense at third base and short. It makes sense to play Ramirez at shortstop.
Oh -- and I never thought I'd say this -- but the Dodgers can fill third base better right now with *gulp* Juan Uribe.
You see what you've made me do, Ned Colletti? You've made me say something "good" about Uribe. I feel really dirty right now.
Hopefully we'll be looking at a Ramirez-Chase Headley left side of the infield by July 31 (and hopefully sooner). The Dodgers are going to have to do something because no matter how good ones defense is, it can't make up for a sub-.100 batting average.
Also, here's hoping Ramirez isn't coming back from a serious injury too soon, because the Dodgers and their fans can't suffer through an infield where guys like Sellers, Cruz and Uribe are legitimate options.
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.
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