Daily Distractions: What does it mean if Yasiel Puig loses the “Final Vote”?

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig is second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” for the MLB All-Star Game. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig remained second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” tally announced Wednesday morning by MLB. A spokesperson for the league told me that there will be no announcements about exact vote totals or margin of separation during the voting period, other than what MLB chooses to release through MLB.com. So that’s all the data we have: Freeman first, Puig second.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s live chat, it’s in the league’s interest that fans feel like they’re a part of the All-Star selection process, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the product. MLB believes it’s found the right balance. Some, particularly those who feel the game shouldn’t count for home-field advantage in the World Series, will disagree.

Regardless, the winner of the “Final Vote” probably won’t play much in the game if he plays at all. That’s particularly true for Freeman, who must take a number behind three first basemen already selected to the National League roster. So what does it mean if – gasp! – Puig ultimately loses the vote to Freeman?

Does it mean a plurality of baseball fans agree with NL manager Bruce Bochy and others who believe that Puig isn’t experienced enough to be an All-Star?

Does it mean the Braves’ social media team is doing a better job convincing the world to vote for Freeman than the Dodgers are for Puig?

Is it a conspiracy?

We’ll probably never know.

Some bullet points for a Nikola Tesla Day:
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Hanley Ramirez will avoid disabled list for now after encouraging MRI result.

Hanley Ramirez

An MRI on the left hamstring of Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez Monday revealed no further damage. (Keith Birmingham/Staff photographer)

Two days, Hanley Ramirez says. That’s all he needs.

“We’re learning not to listen to Hanley,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said to a cackling crowd of reporters. “We’re going to listen to medical on this.”

It wasn’t “two days,” but the Dodgers’ medical staff had some good news for Ramirez Monday. An MRI on his strained left hamstring revealed no further damage, and he may be able to miss the disabled list altogether.
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Tim Federowicz is the backup catcher again; Justin Sellers optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tim Federowicz

Tim Federowicz posted a 1.643 OPS after being demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Tim Federowicz returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. In his mind, and on the depth chart, it was like he never left.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Federowicz will be the team’s number-two catcher, supplanting veteran Ramon Hernandez, whose 0 for 4 performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday lowered his batting average to .045. Hernandez, who was obtained from Colorado for pitcher Aaron Harang on April 6, is staying on as the Dodgers’ third catcher.
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers face an important roster decision.

Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe, Justin Sellers

One of these men might not be on the active roster by game time tomorrow. (Associated Press photo)

Expect the Dodgers to shed an infielder for this weekend’s series against the San Francisco Giants.

Before we assume that Mark Ellis will be placed on the 15-day disabled list to make room for Clayton Kershaw, who must be activated from the bereavement list before he starts Friday, consider Ellis’ career numbers against the San Francisco Giants’ scheduled starters.

He’s never had much success against Friday’s starter, Barry Zito (.217/.280/.304 in 23 at-bats). Yet Ellis has had no problems with Saturday’s starter, Ryan Vogelsong (.313/.313/.375 in 16 ABs) or Sunday’s starter, Matt Cain (.333/.385/.417 in 24 ABs).

So if Ellis’ right quadriceps is healthy tomorrow — he wasn’t far off Wednesday — it’s entirely possible that the Dodgers would use him Saturday and Sunday and keep him on the bench as a late-innings option Friday.

If that’s the case, look for the Dodgers to option Justin Sellers to Triple-A Albuquerque. Sellers is hitting .200/.278/.262. His slugging percentage is the fifth-lowest in the National League, just ahead of Juan Pierre (.253). The Dodgers don’t need a slugger at every position, but they’ve got an extra infielder if Ellis and Hanley Ramirez are both healthy. Sellers’ numbers could leave him the odd man out.

A less likely move, if the Dodgers are so inclined, would be to designate Luis Cruz for assignment. Cruz hasn’t hit all season (.088/.117/.088), allowing Juan Uribe to surpass him on the depth chart at third base. While Sellers still has an option year to burn, Cruz does not, so this would be the most convenient means for removing Cruz from the active roster.

It’s a rash move, sure. By designating Cruz for assignment, the Dodgers would risk losing him altogether when they could just as easily keep Sellers or Ellis in the organization. But it’s an option, and something to keep an eye on in the next 24 hours.

Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:

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A day of firsts for the Dodgers’ starting lineup.

Nick Punto gets his first start, Luis Cruz and Andre Ethier get their first day off, and Tim Federowicz gets his first start behind the plate when the Dodgers host the Pittsburgh Pirates to conclude their first homestand of the season.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had different reasons for each of the changes. Cruz, who is still searching for his first hit of the season after 19 plate appearances, “needs to put those behind him because he can’t change anything that happened in the first five games of the season,” Mattingly said.

“Hopefully he can see the forest because he was getting a little close to the trees, can’t see his way out.”

Juan Uribe will start at third base and bat sixth.

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Justin Sellers is out, Juan Uribe in for series finale against Giants.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is making his first start for the Dodgers since Aug.14, 2012. (Associated Press)

One day after his two-error performance against the San Francisco Giants, Justin Sellers will sit and Luis Cruz will play shortstop in Wednesday’s series finale against Tim Lincecum.

Juan Uribe will play third base, making his first start since August 14 of last year. Cruz had played third base in the first two games of the season.

Sellers, a last-minute addition to the 25-man roster in spring training, had only made two errors in 29 career games at shortstop before Tuesday. In the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 3-0 loss, he made a pair of throwing miscues that led to two unearned runs. It didn’t technically make the difference in the game — the Giants already led 1-0 — but benching Sellers one day after the blunders could be more than coincidence.

Of course, it could also be in response to the Dodgers’ almost total lack of offensive production in their first two games of the season against the Giants. They’re 9 for 59 (.153) in the two games.

While Uribe hasn’t been an offensive threat since he came to Los Angeles two years ago, he batted .333/.358/.451 in spring training — possibly saving his spot on the 40-man roster.

Today, Uribe gets his first shot to show that his spring was no fluke.

Uribe will bat seventh and Cruz sixth against Lincecum.

Dodgers lose Hanley Ramirez for eight weeks with thumb injury.

Hanley Ramirez

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.

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Dodgers reassign Jesus Flores; option Shawn Tolleson, Justin Sellers to minors.

The Dodgers shed a third catcher from their camp roster in as many days Tuesday by re-assigning Jesus Flores to the minors. That effectively hands the backup backstop’s job to Tim Federowicz.

Federowicz was the front-runner to be the number-two behind A.J. Ellis, but not a shoo-in when the Dodgers invited four more experienced catchers — Flores, Ramon Castro, Wilkin Castillo and Eliezer Alfonzo — as non-roster invitees. Alfonzo never reported to camp. Castro and Flores never hit. Castillo did (.333/.333/.389) but it wasn’t enough to unseat Federowicz, a 24-year-old who has never been on an Opening Day roster.

The bullpen picture became more clear when Shawn Tolleson was optioned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp. The 25-year-old right-hander only allowed one run in seven appearances, but the team appears intent on giving a bullpen job to a more experienced righty such as Peter Moylan, Mark Lowe or Kevin Gregg, or rookie Josh Wall. The 34-year-old Gregg, who’s allowed two hits and no runs in six appearances, looks like the front-runner among that group. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez also remains in camp.

Justin Sellers was the third camp casualty Tuesday. The infielder was optioned to the minor-league camp after batting .150/.150/.190, with 3 hits and no walks in 21 plate appearances.

The major-league camp roster is down to 40 players.

Dodgers spring training preview: Infielders.

Adrian Gonzalez

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?

Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr., who can be expected to log some innings on the infield, were intentionally previewed with the outfielders. Upward and onward:

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