Ramirez has been taking ground balls and swinging a bat already, but hasn’t seen live game action since he tore a ligament in his right thumb in March. On Thursday, Ramirez indicated on his Twitter account that he would begin his rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
It’s not every Opening Day that a Single-A baseball team gets an 80-game winner to start its first game of the season.
That will be the case Thursday, when Chad Billingsley takes the hill for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
Billingsley, one of four players on the Dodgers’ disabled list to start the season, said he hasn’t been given an innings limit for the start. That may still come, but the right-hander said he isn’t restricted in any way two weeks after he bruised the index finger on his right hand doing a bunting drill.
Not long after being released by the organization, former Dodgers third-round draft pick Austin Gallagher was suspended 50 games Friday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Gallagher, 24, tested positive for Methylhexaneamine, a substance used as an ingredient in nasal decongestants and banned by MLB and the World Anti-Doping Agency as a stimulant. His suspension will be effective immediately upon his signing with another organization.
In 2012, his fourth season in the High-A California League, Gallagher batted .283 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Gallagher was chosen in the third round of a 2007 Dodgers draft class that included first-rounder Chris Withrow, 22nd-rounder Matt Wallach and 27th-rounder Rob Rasmussen (out of high school).
After breaking into the Cal League at age 19, Gallagher showed he could hit for average (.290 over four seasons) but not power (.447 SLG%) in a league known for its hitter-friendly fences. He hasn’t reached the Double-A level in six professional seasons.
Gallagher was released prior to being suspended, and his release was unrelated to the positive test.
The Dodgers and their Single-A affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, formally announced they’ll play an exhibition game on March 28 at the Epicenter.
The game will begin at 6 p.m. and last seven innings. The Dodgers are playing another split-squad game that day in Anaheim to kick off the Freeway Series. Tommy Lasorda will manage the Dodgers in Rancho and Don Mattingly (presumably) will manage in Anaheim.
“As an organization, we are excited about strengthening our relationship with the Quakes and the Quakes’ fan base,” the Dodgers’ vice president of player development De Jon Watson, said in a statement. “In this game, the fans will have an opportunity to see not only our Major League players but some of our young rising stars at the best facility in the California League.”