For the fifth straight game, Hanley Ramirez is not a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. The shortstop recently had an MRI that revealed no damage, and the Dodgers have said that Ramirez will return to the lineup when he is pain-free.
When that will be is a big question.
Ramirez, who has slashed .269/.354/.469 in 73 games this year, is a major cog in the Dodger offense and may feel pressure to return earlier than necessary if the team struggles to score runs. There is also the issue of his looming free agency, as his potential payday is certain to be hampered by any extended period of missed games.
While the Dodgers would certainly welcome Ramirez’s return to the lineup, might they be better served by placing him on the 15-day DL to ensure that no additional injuries crop up due to a premature return to action?
Of course, a move such as this would also allow the Dodgers to add another bench piece in Ramirez’s absence, though there is a question about who it would be and whether or not they could be productive enough to be of value. The rationale for placing Ramirez on the DL is not that the Dodgers would free up a spot on the bench, but rather that the club needs to take the long view and ensure that their shortstop is healthy enough for the second half of the season.
This is something that the Dodgers have seen before, and with the San Francisco Giants back within striking distance, they can afford to be patient for Ramirez to return. There is no need for the player to rush back before he is ready, as there is nothing to be gained other than an increased risk of long-term injury.
Ramirez may be close to returning, as he was available to pinch-hit last night. He never got the opportunity, and he is still not ready for fielding duties.
When Ramirez does return, it is in the best interest of the Dodgers to make sure that he is completely healed and ready to go. There is no need to take unnecessary risks with a player that is as valuable as Ramirez.
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