Daily Distractions: To Hanley, or not to Hanley?

Hanley Ramirez

The Dodgers are 35-37 this season when Hanley Ramirez isn’t in the starting lineup. (Associated Press)

At some point this month, maybe tomorrow if the Dodgers have clinched a playoff berth by then, Don Mattingly will be asked how he balanced winning September games with keeping injured players intact for October. The answer was not obvious when the sun rose and it wasn’t any clearer when Hanley Ramirez was listed third in the batting order for today’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mattingly told reporters in Phoenix on Wednesday that Ramirez likely would be out of the lineup today. Ramirez isn’t fully recovered from the irritated nerve that led him to receive a pair of cortisone injections over the weekend, and watching him run the bases has been painful at times. It’s abundantly clear he isn’t healthy.

Yet playing Ramirez can’t be a simple matter of keeping him fresh; he’s 6 for 15 with four runs scored and an RBI on four or more days’ rest this season. Dee Gordon is healthy, so far as we know. So are Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr., who’s been taking ground balls at shortstop recently.

Here’s a better stat: The Dodgers are 52-28 with Ramirez starting, but 35-37 without him. Simply put, they are an average team without Ramirez in the lineup.

Run him into the ground, and Ramirez won’t be in the lineup at all in October.

Don’t play him at all in September and there might not be an October — at least, it’s felt that way at times recently.

At some point, we’ll find out how the thinking goes in the manager’s office.

Here be some bullet points for a National Speak Like a Pirate Day:

Chad Billingsley‘s throwing program is in Week 4, per an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM Sports.

• Were the Dodgers to clinch today, it would be the earliest by calendar date that they’ve done so since moving to Los Angeles. The 1977 Dodgers clinched in game No. 151 and the 1995 club wrapped by the division in game No. 143, but that was in a 144-game, strike-shortened season.

• How ironic that Matt Kemp, who’s played 171 games the last two seasons, might be rescuing an otherwise injury-bitten Dodgers team in September.

• One reason why Alexander Guerrero’s widely reported contract with the Dodgers hasn’t come to fruition (per FoxSports.com): The players’ union had not certified Guerrero’s previous agent, Rudy Santin, and the union only approves deals negotiated by certified agents. Guerrero has since signed with Scott Boras.

• Tommy Lasorda, A.J. Ellis, Kenley Jansen and Darryl Strawberry will sign autographs on Sept. 28, 2013, during the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Sports Collectible Expo. Lasorda will sign autographs from 10 a.m. to noon ($89 per item), Ellis ($29) and Jansen ($35) will sign from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Strawberry ($39) from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Duke Snider was born today in 1926. With 389 home runs as a Dodger, he’s still the franchise’s all-time leader. Here’s a sweet photo of Snider posted to the Hall of Fame’s Twitter account.

• In Japan, someone had to pay for a new single-season home run king being crowned. Apparently it was the commissioner. He resigned.

• Speaking of Japan,

• “Talkin’ Baseball” has nothing on these 10 baseball-themed songs.

• The Holydrug Couple has appeared here before. I’ve since decided to stick with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as their closest musical comparison. CSNY never released a truly bad song, you won’t convince me otherwise, and I’ve yet to hear a clunker from THC. This live long jam would fit right in behind “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” at Woodstock:

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