Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez will have surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb Friday in Los Angeles, the team announced. He is expected to miss eight weeks, which projects to May 17, the Dodgers’ 39th game of the season.
“It’s bad,” he said. “But it’s something that I can’t control. It could have happened anywhere. It could have happened here. Unfortunately it happened at the WBC. It’s very disappointing.”
Dr. Steve Shin, a sports medicine hand specialist at Kerlan Jobe, will perform the surgery. Ramirez will have his thumb immobilized for 3 weeks.
Ramirez suffered the injury Tuesday while playing third base in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic won the game, 3-0 over Puerto Rico. As he dove and missed Jesus Feliciano‘s single into left field, Ramirez said he bent his thumb sideways, away from the rest of his hand, when it got caught in the grass:
However, Ramirez remained in the game. He played out the third inning and the fourth inning in the field, then singled in the bottom of the fourth. He was ultimately removed after the fifth inning and replaced by Miguel Tejada.
Ramirez said that the injury was sustained diving for the ground ball and wasn’t exacerbated by staying in the game.
“It wasn’t that bad” initially, Ramirez said. “Maybe because I was warm. After I got out of the game, after a couple minutes I started cooling down. That’s when I started feeling it.”
Ramirez has been told he can field ground balls at shortstop, do cardiovascular exercises — “everything except for throwing” — during his rehab process. He hasn’t been informed whether that rehab will take place at extended spring training here in Arizona or with his teammates in Los Angeles.
Even though Ramirez won the WBC championship wearing the uniform of his home country, it wasn’t enough to numb the pain.
“This is the main thing — L.A. Dodgers,” he said. “Even when I was playing in the WBC, representing my country. It was an honor for me. But at the same time I was thinking this team — what they were doing in the spring, to get to know each other, to stay together. To get this news today, it’s not easy. It’s going to be tough, but what can we do? I know they’re going to do the best they can and play hard every day until I get there.”
Ramirez said he spoke to Dee Gordon, the Dodgers’ Opening Day shortstop a year ago, whose job at the major-league level has been in limbo since spring training began. “He told me everything’s going to be fine,” Ramirez said.
Gordon, however, wasn’t in a chatty mood.
“It’s just having a teammate out,” he said, before heading off to a workout. “That’s it. I’m just helping a teammate out.”
It’s possible if not likely that the Dodgers will still send Gordon, who’s batting .241 in Cactus League play, to Triple-A and use a committee at third base while shifting Luis Cruz to shortstop. Cruz has started 58 games in his career at short, compared to 48 at third base, where he shined in the field (.984 fielding percentage, which would have led the league) last season. After flirting with a .300 batting average last season, Cruz is batting .278 with two home runs this spring and has a secure job somewhere on the infield.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly mentioned Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Uribe, Nick Punto and Justin Sellers as possible replacements at third base if Cruz shifts to shortstop. As of this morning, it wasn’t clear how seriously the Dodgers were in seeking help from outside the organization.
“Hanley’s a great player,” Hairston said. “You don’t want to lose anybody like that for any amount of time. We’re a team. We’ve got to pick each other up.”