Hanley Ramirez began a minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Jupiter and could be back as soon as Tuesday against the Phillies. However, the more interesting news is where he might find himself in the lineup upon his return.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is considering using him out of the leadoff spot again.
“Let’s see where he is at,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t decided that yet. It could be first or it could be second.”
Asked directly if Rodriguez is thinking of batting Ramirez leadoff, the manager said: “Yes. Maybe not at first because we don’t know how his leg is going to hold up or his back.”
Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on May 30 with a strained left lower back, but has also dealt with pain in his upper left leg for most of the season. It would be unfair to count on him as a run producer right away, as he was batting just .210/.306/.309 with four home runs and 17 RBI before prior on the disabled list, but we probably can’t expect him to be the same dynamic leadoff hitter he used to be, either.
To be fair, Marlins’ leadoff hitters have combined to bat just .242/.311/.377 entering tonight’s action, so it wouldn’t take much for him to be an immediate upgrade.
The Diamondbacks have signed free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com adds that De La Rosa stands to make $2.25 million if he secures a spot on the major league roster, with up to $600,000 in incentives if he pitches out of the bullpen and up to $1 million in incentives if he pitches out of the starting rotation.
The 35-year-old is expected to compete for a bullpen role after spending the better part of a decade in the Rockies’ rotation. He capped a nine-year run with Colorado in 2016, finishing the year with a 5.51 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 134 innings. Despite his struggles out of the rotation, he found limited success in a three-game stint in the bullpen, striking out 10 of 26 batters and holding the opposition to just three hits and one earned run in eight innings.
The veteran lefty is set to join a bullpen comprised of right-handers Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Fernando Rodney, along with a number of unproven candidates on similar minor league contracts. His age and command issues may be off-putting, but the promise he showed as a reliever should give the Diamondbacks some upside as they attempt to redeem a league-worst bullpen in 2017.
Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss up to three weeks with a right calf strain, reports John Lott. Donaldson reportedly felt some discomfort in his calf during sprinting drills on Friday and was diagnosed with what looked like a mild strain after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. According to Lott, the 31-year-old is on crutches for the next few days and will likely miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.
Donaldson had a similar scare at the start of the 2016 season, when he limped out of the batter’s box during the Blue Jays’ first regular season road trip with a right calf strain. He returned to DH two days later, however, and was back on the field in less than a week’s time. Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins told MLB.com’s Corey Long that the two calf injuries are unrelated, and expects that Donaldson will recover in similar fashion this spring — well before Opening Day comes around.