After much ado about something, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier join Dodgers’ Game 3 lineup.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez, right with Yasiel Puig, batted .500 (8 for 16) in the National League Division Series. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)

Hanley Ramirez (hairline rib fracture) and Andre Ethier (soreness in lower left leg) passed the test.

After Dodgers manager Don Mattingly declared that both players would be game-time decisions for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, Ramirez and Ethier showed enough in pregame drills to earn a spot in the starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ethier could be a particularly important weapon today against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. Only five Dodgers have as many as 10 career plate appearances against the right-hander, and Ethier leads them all in batting average (.303), on-base percentage (.361) and slugging percentage (.667). He’s batting fifth.

Ramirez is 5 for 24 (.208) with no extra-base hits in his career against Wainwright, and went 0 for 6 in Game 1 against the Cardinals. He was the Dodgers’ best hitter in the National League Division Series against the Braves, batting .500 (8 for 16) with four doubles, a triple and a home run. He’s batting third.

Yasiel Puig is batting sixth, his lowest position in a starting lineup since he joined the Dodgers in June. Puig has struck out six times in 10 at-bats in the NLCS without collecting a hit. Wainwright has been tough on right-handers throughout his career; this season alone right-handers have struck out 111 times in 457 at-bats against Wainwright and walked only 10 times.

Puig went 1 for 3 with a double and two strikeouts in his only game against Wainwright this season.

For the Cardinals, Matt Adams moves from the cleanup spot to number six, where he’s been against left-handers Francisco Liriano and Clayton Kershaw in these playoffs. Yadier Molina beats fourth.

Here are the lineups for both teams:
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Hanley Ramirez has a hairline fracture of his eighth rib, will be game-time decision for NLCS Game 3. Update.

Hanley RamirezA CT scan on Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez revealed a hairline fracture of his eighth rib. Ramirez will be a game-time decision today, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

“It’s just going to be a matter if he can swing the bat or not, and that’s what we’re kind of trying to get him loose now. He’ll try to swing here … I think around 2 o’clock they were talking about, and we’ll have to make a decision from there.”

Update: Ramirez said prior to the game that he will play, wearing protective gear “like a running back.”

“I owe too much to this team and this city” not to play, he added.
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Hanley Ramirez scratched from Dodgers’ lineup with bruised ribs.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez was hit in the left side of his rib cage Friday in the first inning of Game 1. (Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez was scratched from the Dodgers’ lineup about an hour before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.

Ramirez was hit on the left side of his rib cage by a 95-mph Joe Kelly fastball in the first inning Friday. He played all 13 innings of Game 1 but was in obvious pain after the game. He is expected to receive x-rays to determine the severity of his injury soon.

No word yet on whether Ramirez will be available as a pinch hitter late in the game. Andre Ethier, scratched with soreness in his lower left leg, will be available off the bench.

Here is the Dodgers’ new lineup:

Carl Crawford LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Yasiel Puig RF
Juan Uribe 3B
Skip Schumaker CF
A.J. Ellis C
Nick Punto SS
Clayton Kershaw P

Andre Ethier scratched from Dodgers’ lineup in Game 2 of NLCS; Hanley Ramirez a game-time decision.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier played 13 innings in center field in Game 1 and will start Game 2 on the bench. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier played 13 innings in his first game in the field since Sept. 13.

That was more than enough for one day — or two.

Saturday, Ethier arrived at Busch Stadium feeling sore and was given a day off in favor of Skip Schumaker in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that X-rays on Ethier’s left leg came back negative, but Schumaker will bat seventh and play center field against his former employer, the St. Louis Cardinals.

“He was sore at the end of the game last night,” Mattingly said, which is something that Ethier wouldn’t admit to when surrounded by reporters in the wee hours Saturday morning.

Regardless, Ethier is available to pinch hit and double-switch late in the game today, Mattingly said.
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When did Hanley Ramirez turn it up? Depends on who you ask.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez is hitting .538 in the first four games of the National League Division Series. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)

Hanley Ramirez‘s 3-for-4, two-RBI performance Sunday sparked some discussion about how Ramirez turned his career around.

Ramirez won a batting title with the Marlins in 2009, but didn’t hit above .300 in a single season since. This year, he batted .345 in the regular season with a 1.040 OPS that led the team. His six extra-base hits in this playoff series have matched a team record set by Steve Garvey in 1978. His batting average in the four games is .538.

So when did Ramirez turn it up?

“I saw a big difference in Hanley coming back from the (World Baseball Classic), a passion for winning,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “A passion for competing. He made himself a better hitter.”

Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci (who to my knowledge hasn’t interviewed Ramirez this season) said on TBS last night that the transformation came more recently.

Yasiel Puig really lit a fire under [Ramirez]. He saw the kind of energy that Puig brought to the game and he has followed suit,” Verducci said. “He’s the most dangerous hitter in their lineup. They have a great lineup and he is the guy that would scare me the most.”

Ramirez said the turning point came even sooner, when he arrived in Los Angeles last year.

“I knew what I was going through the last two years after that big surgery on my left shoulder” in Sept. 2011, he said after Game 3. “I wasn’t feeling the same. So I knew that I’ve got to put extra work on my shoulder to get back on track.

“After I got here, the medical staff, man, they’ve been unbelievable. I think they’re part of my success, you know? I think I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. And my teammates, you know, they show me a lot of support all year long. I really appreciate that. You don’t go anywhere without your teammates and whoever is around you.”

Injury updates: Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, A.J. Ellis

Carl Crawford had the most honest answer of any Dodger when asked to update his health status after Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Sunday night.

Crawford, who went head-over-heels over a short padded fence and fell into a concrete patio along the left-field line — all while catching Brian McCann‘s foul pop-up in the eighth inning — stayed in the game and seemed no worse for the wear.

Why was that?

“I’m on all kinds of medication right now so I won’t feel it until tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll have an answer for you by tomorrow.”

Crawford even beat out a forceout in the bottom of the eighth inning, then scored from second base on a single by Hanley Ramirez.
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Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on Dodgers shortstop, former Marlin Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez played for Fredit Gonzalez in Miami from 2007 until Gonzalez was fired in June 2010. (Associated Press photo)


Was Hanley Ramirez responsible for Fredi Gonzalez getting fired as the Florida Marlins’ manager in June 2010?

That was a legitimate question at the time and Ramirez, the Dodgers’ shortstop, quickly denied the notion.

Here’s what the Palm Beach Post wrote at the time:

Hanley Ramirez said Sunday he is upset for being named as a reason for Fredi Gonzalez’s firing.

“Everybody will miss him,” he said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to forget and move forward. A lot of people put it on me. I don’t know why. It had nothing to do with me. Things that should have happened, happened. That’s it.”

Ramirez said his relationship with Gonzalez improved after Ramirez was benched last month for not hustling after a ball he inadvertently kicked down the left field line. Ramirez then criticized the manager and his teammates after learning he was not in the lineup the next day.

“I think, yeah,” he said when asked if there was more of an understanding between the two after the incident.

“There was more respect for each other. It was great. I told him we should have explained ourselves before that.”

Friday, Gonzalez was asked if Ramirez is still the same player he remembers managing in Florida.
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Magic Johnson on Robinson Cano: ‘He’s going to get paid — not by us, but he’s going to get paid.”

Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano and his recently hired agent, rapper Jay Z, are asking for too much money to be counted among the Dodgers’ priorities. (Getty Images)

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson all but ruled out making a run at free agent second baseman Robinson Cano prior to the Dodgers’ NLDS opener against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Johnson was discussing re-signing pitcher Clayton Kershaw when he mentioned Cano, though not by name. Asked how much more expensive Kershaw would become if he went 5-0 in the postseason, Johnson said “we’re not worried about that.”

“We already know we’ve got to give (Kershaw) a lot of money, what’s a few more zeroes?” Johnson said, laughing. “I hope he goes 5-0. I’ll take that all day long. This young man is going to get paid.

“I can’t talk about the other guy, the guy in New York. He’s going to get paid — not by us, but he’s going to get paid. When you’re a superstar, you get paid. We understand that.”
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Daily Distractions: The case for Zack Greinke, Game 1 starter.

Clatyon Kershaw Zack Greinke

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are arguably best 1-2 combination in the playoffs, but does it really matter who’s 1 and who’s 2? (Associated Press photo)


The world would not fall off its axis if Zack Greinke started the Dodgers’ playoff opener and Clayton Kershaw started Game 2. It would merely seem that way when you think of all the arguments in favor of Kershaw starting Game 1: Kershaw is going to win the National League Cy Young Award; he leads the world in ERA; he’s been the Dodgers’ best starter all season; he’s Clayton Kershaw for goodness sakes!

I’m not about to invoke a sabermetric-versus-old school angle, so this debate will not gain much traction outside of Los Angeles. But there’s a small case to be made for Greinke.

Here are the two pitchers over their last 15 starts:

IP H R ER BB SO BA OPS ERA
108.2 76 23 20 19 106 .198 .516 1.66
102.2 72 18 18 22 89 .197 .539 1.58

Leave out the wins and losses, and it’s not so easy to guess which stat line belongs to which pitcher. (Kershaw, who is 9-4 in his last 15 starts, owns the first line. Greinke, who is 9-1, owns the second.) The small differences are outweighed by the similarities.

The main reason Greinke isn’t challenging Kershaw for the National League ERA title is because he wasn’t nearly as effective in his first 12 starts of the season. Blame a stop-and-go spring training, blame Carlos Quentin — whatever the reason, Greinke’s early-season numbers have hurt his October credentials.

Greinke pitched only two games in April and three in May because of his run-in with Quentin. That carries another side effect: Greinke has made five fewer starts, and thrown 622 fewer pitches than Kershaw, this season. When choosing between a pair of virtual equals on the mound, shouldn’t that count for something? Say the Dodgers’ first-round series goes to five games. If Kershaw needs to start Game 5, that will be 35th start of the season. If Greinke starts the game, it would be his 30th.

You would still see both pitchers at least once in a best-of-seven NLCS, should the Dodgers get that far. Same for the World Series. So the question of who pitches Game 1 is just as much about who pitches a do-or-die Game 5 in the divisional series. If both pitchers are equally capable, why not choose the arm with less wear and tear?

Think of this like the final laps of a NASCAR race. Your car needs new tires. A caution flag is thrown late in the race. You have the choice of staying out or pulling into the pits for a fresh set of tires. Why not pit?

The question is moot, because there is no debate. The Dodgers have already chosen Kershaw for Game 1 and Greinke for Game 2, a decision that passed without much surprise or second-guessing. The rotation is lined up.

It probably wasn’t a coin flip, but it could have been.

Some bullet points to kick off a National Dog Week:
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Daily Distractions: When baseball imitates reality television (accidentally or otherwise).

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen jumps into the Chase Field pool after Thursday’s win. (Associated Press photo)

Sports is the original reality television. Nothing like a little drama to spice it up, right?

Forget “Poolgate.” Call the controversy over the Dodgers’ postgame celebration “The Real World: Phoenix” (and hope MTV doesn’t keep a copyright attorney on retainer).

Apparently, prior to the series, the Arizona Diamondbacks asked the Dodgers to confine their clinching celebration to the visitors’ clubhouse. They even stationed some security guards on the field Thursday to make sure the Dodgers didn’t do anything crazy:

As it always does, human nature set in. When someone is ordered not to do something, he finds his best way around it. Ever pull into the carpool lane while stuck in traffic and driving alone? Ever sneak a peak at your phone at a red light, look for a cop, then quickly put the phone away? (There was a case of crude rebellion on Project Runway last night. Ah, reality TV — the reality is, I was ironing before you got into the room!)

The Dodgers ran across the field and into the pool.

The incident has spawned some lengthy prose about celebrations and their place in baseball.

Even Arizona senator John McCain chimed in today:

Again, this wasn’t about a celebration.

Hall, now the Diamondbacks’ president, is the Dodgers’ former director of public relations. He may have discretely asked the Dodgers not to go back onto the field to celebrate, but then how did Scully find out and mention this on the broadcast? That got the fans involved, too. Pretty brilliant way to incite a rivalry, accidentally or otherwise.

Seeing the drama go viral, it’s not hard to imagine Hall sipping on some champagne himself this morning.

Some bullet points to get you through the weekend:
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