Why Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig are getting second x-rays.

Every sports writer should know a doctor.

A doctor with intimate knowledge of sports medicine is ideal. One with intimate knowledge of the ulnar collateral ligament and the rotator cuff is perfect. Any orthopedist will do, really.

I called an orthopedist this morning to gain a better understanding of the difference between a fluoroscan x-ray, the kind that took pictures of Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig‘s hands over the weekend in St. Louis, and a traditional x-ray machine.
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With Miguel Rojas starting at shortstop again, taking stock of the Dodgers’ backup infielders.

Miguel Rojas

Miguel Rojas is hitting .232 in his first 30 major-league games. (Associated Press photo)

It’s reached the juncture, again, where Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is being propped up by shoulder injections. The Dodgers seem to think that last night’s injection hit the correct spot. Time will tell.

On Friday, for the fourth time in the last five games, Ramirez wasn’t in the Dodgers’ lineup. Miguel Rojas was. Ramirez’s health seems to be stuck on day-to-day, so it’s worth examining where his backups stand in what’s become a competition for fairly regular playing time.
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Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier rest with injuries.

Scott Van Slyke is in center field and Miguel Rojas is starting at shortstop against rookie right-hander Jesse Hahn when the Dodgers host the San Diego Padres tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Though manager Don Mattingly isn’t exactly hoping this becomes a trend, it might be too late. Van Slyke has started three of the last five games in center field over Andre Ethier, and four of the last eight. Typically the starter against a left-handed opponent, Van Slyke is starting for the second straight night against a righty.

“In general Dre just seems like he doesn’t have the same energy. He hasn’t felt good body-wise,” Mattingly said. “There’s lots of little things. One thing usually is the building block to another and to compensate, you’ve got another issue. It’s really just trying to get that stuff kind of resolved.”

As for shortstop Hanley Ramirez, he’s started only one of the last five games at shortstop because of inflammation in the A/C joint in his right shoulder. He’s only played one complete game at shortstop since June 16 — he was the Dodgers’ designated hitter once in Kansas City and twice in Detroit in the meantime.

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Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) out again. Don Mattingly hopes shortstop can avoid the disabled list.

Hanley Ramirez was held out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals and will potentially miss his fourth straight game with a sore right shoulder.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was hopeful that his shortstop could still make an appearance in tonight’s game:


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Yasiel Puig still leading National League outfielders on all-star ballot; Adrian Gonzalez slips to second.

MLB provided an updated all-star ballot tally Sunday, and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig still leads the pack with 1,942,701 votes. Andrew McCutchen (1,727,534) and Giancarlo Stanton (1,659,430) are second and third, respectively.

Adrian Gonzalez (1,049,222) fell behind Paul Goldschmidt (1,291,052) in voting among National League first basemen. No other Dodgers are among the top three vote-getters at their position.

Juan Uribe dropped out of the top five among National League third basemen. Hanley Ramirez remains fourth among shortstops with 667,162 — well behind Troy Tulowitzki, whose 2.6 million votes lead all National League players. Dee Gordon slipped to third among second baseman with 898,226, possibly past the point of catching leader Chase Utley (1,678,843).

Voting ends at 8:59 pm on July 3, 2014.

Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez continue their strong All-Star bids.

Yasiel Puig Adrian Gonzalez

Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez are attempting to become the first pair of Dodgers teammates to earn fan elections in an All-Star Game since 1980. (Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez continue to lead all National League outfielders and first basemen, respectively, in updated All-Star balloting announced Monday.

Puig widened his lead over Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, 1,472,717 votes to 1,259,047 for Stanton. As of six days ago, Puig led Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon by about 52,000 votes. Blackmon fell out of the top three, surpassed by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. There are no other Dodger outfielders (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are both on the ballot) among the top 15 vote-getters.

Puig entered play Monday ranked second in the N.L. with a .591 slugging percentage and a .430 on-base percentage, tied for fourth with 23 multi-hit games, fifth with 127 total bases, tied for sixth with 40 RBI and 30 extra-base hits and tied for seventh with 72 hits.

Gonzalez maintains his lead with 888,906 total votes. He is trailed closely by a pair of 2013 N.L. All-Stars – Paul Goldschmidt (784,026) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Freddie Freeman (710,778) of the Atlanta Braves.

Puig and Gonzalez are attempting to become the first pair of Dodgers teammates to earn fan elections in an All-Star Game since 1980, when first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and outfielder Reggie Smith were all elected by the fans.

Three other Dodgers are among the top five vote-getters at their positions: second baseman Dee Gordon (second), shortstop Hanley Ramirez (fourth) and third baseman Juan Uribe (fifth).

The All-Star Game will be played at Target Field in Minnesota on Tuesday, July 15.

All-Star balloting update: Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez have the votes.

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez made the All-Star team each year from 2008-11, but none since. (Associated Press)


Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez are the leading vote-getters at their respective positions for the National League All-Star Game.

Puig surged from fifth to first at the polls. His total of 935,276 votes leads Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (883,186) and Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (863,307).

Gonzalez (647,826) remained in line to start at first base for the second straight week, leading Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau (525,614).

Dee Gordon (530,289) remains second to Chase Utley (974,196) among National League second basemen, while Hanley Ramirez is fourth among shortstops (366,355) and Juan Uribe is fifth among third basemen (436,776).

Puig is the only Dodgers outfielder among the top 15 vote-getters. The game will be played at Minnesota’s Target Field on July 15.

Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe held out of lineup, could be headed for disabled list.

Juan Uribe has a mild right hamstring and will not play Friday night against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers’ third baseman suffered the injury running out a double-play ball in the seventh inning Thursday night.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t rule out the possibility that Uribe could wind up on the disabled list.

“Hamstrings are tricky,” Mattingly said. “If you can’t run, you can’t play. We’ll give him a day. We’ll probably find out tomorrow.”

At least in Uribe’s case, the hamstring hasn’t been a nagging issue in recent years. He injured the same hamstring in 2008 as a member of the Chicago White Sox, but that was the last time the injury sent him to the disabled list.

Still, the Dodgers are being cautious with the 35-year-old, who’s played 318 ⅓ of a possible 335 ⅓ possible defensive innings this season.

“He’s walking around, he looks fine like anyone else,” Mattingly said. “Missing a week or two weeks is one thing, but if you’re missing months that’s when your season gets all out of sorts, when you go out on rehabs and you’re trying to get back in the groove, all that kind of stuff. It seems to be mild. We’ll try to keep it at that and not let it turn in to something better and not get too far down the road, as far as letting it screw up his year.”

The manager added that Uribe’s innings are likely to be filled from within the Dodgers’ 25-man roster for now. The right-handed hitting Justin Turner is starting at third base tonight against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Switch-hitter Chone Figgins has appeared in 632 major-league games at third base — more even than Uribe.

Hanley Ramirez was the Miami Marlins’ third baseman when the Dodgers acquired him in July 2012. However, Ramirez told the team immediately after the trade that he would prefer not to move back and forth between positions during the same season, making him an unlikely fill-in for Uribe.

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Daily Distractions: MLB clarifies its ‘transfer rule,’ but 7.13 is still baffling to Dodgers catcher.

Major League Baseball gave its players roughly one month to adjust to a new, literal interpretation of its “transfer rule.” Catch the ball, transfer the ball from glove to hand, make sure each of these steps is deliberate enough to be discerned on video review, and you’re good. That sounds simple. In practice, the rule demanded that fielders break a lifetime’s worth of hard-worn habits. Hanley Ramirez got burned on the call once this season, when he lost his grip on the ball after recording what looked like a forceout at second base. The umpire on scene ruled Ramirez didn’t make a catch in the first place.

Friday morning, the league officially changed its mind.

Beginning tonight, MLB announced that umpires will enforce the transfer rule according to a new standard — that is, the old standard. According to a league release, a catch or valid forceout/tag has occurred:

…if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it to be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

It was too late for Ramirez, but it was nice to see the league act quickly. That said, there’s still at least one rule that the Dodgers would like to see clarified. Ramirez was involved in this one, too.

From my game story last night, in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

With Hanley Ramirez on third base and (Adrian) Gonzalez on first, (Yasiel) Puig hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. Asche fielded the ball deep in the third-base hole and threw to home plate, where Ramirez was out by several feet.

Or was he?

Mattingly popped out of the third-base dugout, asking for help. He demonstrated to the home-plate umpire, Mike DiMuro, what he saw from Philadelphia’s Ruiz: A catcher with both feet planted in front of home plate as Ramirez was bearing down.

According to the rule, which was ratified by MLB and the Players’ Association in spring training, “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”

The problem for Mattingly was that Asche delivered a perfect strike to Ruiz in plenty of time to retire Ramirez. Hunter Wendelstedt initiated a crew chief’s review and baseball’s two new rules for 2014 suddenly collided, an instant replay being used to determine whether a catcher illegally blocked home plate.

Three minutes and 18 seconds later, the call stood. Ramirez was out.

Just before the next inning, I saw Dodgers catcher Tim Federowicz in the dugout demonstrating how to block home plate to pitcher Josh Beckett. After the game, Federowicz was still upset and confused by the sequence of events.

“I honestly thought that call was going to be overturned,” he said. “The only thing in their favor is that (Ruiz) got that ball in plenty of time. He probably got it a good 10 feet before the play. That’s what the final decision was probably on. My whole thing is, why have the rule saying you can’t block the plate without the ball, and he blocks the plate without the ball?”

Here’s a still image, taken from the video of the play, that shows where Ruiz was stationed when he caught the ball (unfortunately I couldn’t grab an image just before Ruiz made the catch):

Hanley  Ramirez

Whether Ruiz is illegally blocking Ramirez’s path to home plate represents a judgment call, too. Could Ruiz be more out of the way of the baseline? Of course. But, as noted at the time, Asche made an accurate throw. If Ruiz plants his mitt in the baseline and his body in foul territory to receive the throw, and Ramirez (who left on contact) sprints home at full speed and slides inside the baseline, Ruiz is in jeopardy of not being able to make the tag.

Maybe Wendelstedt factored this into his judgment. Rule 7.13 goes on to state that “it shall not be considered a violation of this rule if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner.”

Watching the sequence in real time, Federowicz felt that Ruiz didn’t need to lay his right leg in the basepath in order to make the catch. Therefore, Ramirez should have been ruled safe.

“Hanley has nowhere to slide and he’s still out? I guess Hanley’s allowed to hit him in that situation,” Federowicz said. “But again, they scare all these runners from being able to do that. Nobody really knows the correct rule right now.”

Some bullet points for Arbor Day:
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