Thursday, March 21, 2013

Busted thumb costs HanRam 2 months

First "Captain America" David Wright, now Hanley Ramirez.  And just like that I'm starting to agree with the people who are against the World Baseball Classic.

After injuring his right thumb on a dive in the championship game of the WBC (which the Dominican Republic would eventually win), Hanley Ramirez will need surgery to repair a torn ligament, cosing him eight weeks of action.  He'll be in a splint for the first three weeks of rehab.

According to Ramirez, the injury occurred early in the game when he dove to his left on a hard hit grounder.  His right thumb got stuck into the ground and bent backwards, tearing the ligament.  The funny thing is that he actually stayed in the game and picked up a single before the pain really kicked in and manager Tony Pena forced him to sit out.

Even though the Dodgers are dripping with money, don't expect them to go out and make a move to replace him.  The obvious choice is to turn to Dee Gordon, who was the starting shortstop last year at this time.  He'll need to improve his defense and OBP if he wants to earn the everyday nod.  There's also the option of moving Luis Cruz over to short and platooning third.

I would think Cruz will be left alone, and Gordon will get first crack at starting in his old spot again.  What's working against Gordon, in addition to what I listed above, is a mild ankle sprain he's trying to get through.  Thankfully the strain is "mild," so hopefully he'll be good to go soon.

There's also utility men Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Nick Punto, who can pretty play wherever.  There's also the recently demoted Justin Sellers, who has the glove, but can't get a hit.  Speaking of not hitting, Juan Uribe is still lurking whether we like it or not.

Now we move onto the issue of the WBC, which has claimed two stars to injury.  There's two sides to every story, and here they are for this one.  On one side, injuries can occur at any point, at any place.  So it doesn't matter where Ramirez's injury occurred, it just did.  Not much you can do about it.

The problem with that is the other side, which is that a "major" tournament like this is too risky because of the injury factor.  Guys aren't used to going this hard so early in the season, as Spring Training eases them back into action.  So while country pride is a big deal, it's hard to justify it being bigger than being at full strength for the team that pays you millions of dollars for your day job.

Look, I very much enjoyed watching Team USA in their six-game stint in the WBC.  It was a nice warmup for me before the real season starts.  But it's a shame that two players the caliber of Wright and Ramirez had to get hurt because of it.  It almost makes it seem not worth it.  Or at the very least, not worth playing before the season starts.  After the season?  Maybe that's the compromise that needs to be reached.

In the meantime, Ramirez will go under the knife on Friday.  Eight weeks of recovery will put his return around mid-late May.  The Dodgers will be in Milwaukee for three starting on May 20, and back home for three against the Cardinals on May 24.

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