Dee Gordon will start at shortstop today against the Cincinnati Reds, and Carl Crawford will make his debut in left field tomorrow against the Chicago White Sox, as the Dodgers explore options for their Opening Day lineup.
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.
With today’s injury news about Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers must decide who will take his place at shortstop on Opening Day — and beyond. Who should it be?
To acknowledge the obvious: this game didn’t count. It was called after four innings due to heavy rain at Camelback Ranch. We’re just going to pretend these postgame thoughts do count. Try to keep up.
Chris Capuano threw four innings, which was significant because he took a long and winding road to get there. Capuano was scheduled to start the Dodgers’ night game at home against the Cincinnati Reds when the day began. When it appeared that the afternoon game in Scottsdale against the Giants might not be rained out, Capuano made the trip and was penciled in to relieve Ted Lilly.
That didn’t happen; the Dodgers-Giants game was rained out in the second inning with the Dodgers leading 4-0.
Monday’s game, the third of spring training for the Dodgers, began at 1:06 p.m. The Dodgers’ second batter stepped into the batter’s box 18 minutes later.
That’s because the Dodgers’ first batter, Dee Gordon, led off the bottom of the first inning with a 17-pitch at-bat against Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva. (Gordon struck out looking.) In the top of the first, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley allowed hits to the first four batters he faced and surrendered two runs. It had the makings of a long game from the outset and it was: Three hours, 25 minutes total.
The afternoon was probably more memorable if Vin Scully was narrating it — which he was, if you had a radio Monday.
Some less colorful takeaways:
Hanley Ramirez is batting leadoff in the Dodgers’ first game of spring training against the Chicago White Sox. Most of the other regulars in the lineup slotted into a familiar position: Mark Ellis second, Adrian Gonzalez third, Andre Ethier fourth, A.J. Ellis eighth. So what’s up with Hanley hitting first?
“I wanted to make sure I can get him three at-bats without having to play him seven innings,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly has said that he envisions Carl Crawford batting first once the regular season begins. But with Crawford’s uncertain health status, the Dodgers must use spring training to explore their options for the leadoff slot.
Mark Ellis batted leadoff much of last season. So did Dee Gordon, though he’ll need luck on his side to be there on Opening Day in Los Angeles.
Other Dodgers in camp who started games in the leadoff position last year include Tony Gwynn Jr. (21 games), Skip Schumaker (8 games for St. Louis), Elian Herrera (7), Jerry Hairston Jr. (6), Nick Punto (5) and Justin Sellers (1).
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is about as close as it gets to a sure thing here – on the field, in the community, in the clubhouse. Second baseman Mark Ellis is aging but consistent. Then the questions begin. Who will back him up? Can Hanley Ramirez’s glove be trusted at shortstop or at third base? What happens to Dee Gordon? What is Juan Uribe doing here?
Get ready for a higher cable bill.
That was one of many takeaways from yesterday’s news that the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable are on the verge of striking a local-cable rights pact that could be in the neighborhood of $8 billion.
Under the deal, colleague Tom Hoffarth reports, “TWC would be the anchor of this new Dodger channel and provide plenty of cross promotion with its own TWC SportsNet and Deportes channels created specifically for the Lakers. But as TWC found out, there was plenty of pushback from distributors when it launched its two-channel package in October leading up to the start of the Lakers season – mostly because of the high-end $3.95 price tag per subscriber per month. DirecTV, for example, didn’t get on board with it until the middle of November. Dish Network has yet to sign on.”
Even if you don’t care for the Lakers, you probably know someone who does and had to sweat through the TWC SportsNet launch last fall. If that was you, are you ready for the same song-and-dance with the Dodgers next year?
Would you rather see the $8 billion price tag come down? Or are you happy that your owners might turn an approximate $6 billion profit less than one year after buying the team, knowing that might mean more flexibility to add payroll and upgrade Dodger Stadium?
Onto the links:
The Dodgers, once the undisputed major-league leaders in bunting, have fallen to second — 71 to the Milwaukee Brewers’ 73 –in successful sacrifices. Don’t take your eye off this race.
In what appeared to be an attempt to correct this disturbing trend, several Dodgers took part in extra bunting practice before Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dee Gordon and Shane Victorino were both on the field crouched, bat head out in front of the plate, about four hours before tonight’s game.
But only one of the two is in the lineup today, and Victorino is hitting sixth for only the seventh time this season — the first time as a Dodger. Andre Ethier is batting second for the first time since Aug. 1.
“I’ll bunt,” Ethier said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Maybe he won’t have to.
“I probably wouldn’t bunt (a baserunner) over with Andre,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Rosters expand Saturday around Major League Baseball to include all players on the 40-man roster. The Dodgers are expected to bring two players up from Triple-A Albuquerque: catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Javy Guerra.
Federowicz is hitting .296/.371/.465 with 11 home runs and 76 RBIs in 114 games, which ranks third on the Isotopes. The 25-year-old appeared in the first seven games of his major-league career last season with the Dodgers, going 2-for-13.
Guerra had a pair of scoreless two-inning stints Aug. 22 and 25, then allowed four runs while recording only one out last Wednesday in Oklahoma City. His Triple-A ERA is an unsightly 8.31.
Those are the only two players expected to be added to the active roster Saturday, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that more could be added later on. One possibility is Dee Gordon, who was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Thursday and therefore can’t come off until next Monday at the earliest.
Gordon is batting just .133 (2-for-15) in Albuquerque as he recovers from surgery on his right thumb, however, and might not be back Monday.
“He really hasn’t swung the bat well yet, so we’re going to let him play as long as we can,” Mattingly said.
The Pacific Coast League regular season ends Monday. The Isotopes are in first place, one game ahead of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, but have yet to clinch a playoff berth. Assuming they clinch, they would advance to a best-of-five first-round series, and Gordon could keep playing there.