Hanley Ramirez will play his first rehabilitation game tomorrow with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate, the Dodgers’ shortstop confirmed on Twitter this afternoon.
Yesss, I’ll be in Rancho tomorrow,,,I can’t wait…..
— Hanley Ramirez (@HanleyRamirez) April 27, 2013
The assignment was contingent on Ramirez emerging healthy from a pregame routine that included taking ground balls at shortstop, playing catch in the outfield from approximately 100 feet — the longest he’s thrown since having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb March 22 — and taking part in a round of batting practice.
Apparently, Ramirez made it out OK.
He will continue to wear a flexible splint on his right thumb for protection throughout the weekend and into the foreseeable future. Ramirez was expected to miss eight weeks from the time of his surgery, but the Dodgers have proceeded aggressively. Today marks five weeks since he went under the knife. His thumb could be in the splint for the remaining three weeks of the typical recovery period.
There’s still some risk that Ramirez could re-injure the thumb in a scenario similar to the one that caused the injury March 19. Ramirez was playing third base at the time for the Dominican Republic in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic when he dove and jammed the thumb into the turf trying to brace his fall.
Ramirez said his thumb had come “pretty far” when asked Friday how close to full strength it felt.
He’ll play shortstop at Rancho Cucamonga for 5 or 6 innings tomorrow. The Quakes are hosting the Lake Elsinore Storm the next three nights, then have an off-day Monday before traveling to Stockton on Tuesday.
There’s no timetable for Ramirez to return to the Dodgers, even though he told reporters in New York last week that he’d like to play Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies — the night of his bobblehead giveaway at Dodger Stadium.
Mattingly said that Ramirez playing for the Dodgers by “Monday would be really optimistic.”
“The one thing I do want is him to be comfortable on defense,” the manager said. “All these guys want to come off the DL. They don’t want to be on any longer than they have to be.”
Ramirez’s throws were strong Friday and about as accurate as anyone’s. The splint didn’t appear to impede his motion either at the plate or in the field.