Hanley Ramirez unlikely to be ready for Opening Day after WBC injury

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Hanley Ramirez is headed for an MRI exam on the thumb injury he suffered in the World Baseball Classic title game, so the Dodgers will have a clearer picture of his status tomorrow.

In the meantime manager Don Mattingly indicated the early word on Ramirez is that he’ll miss at least two weeks and could miss 8-10 weeks in a worst-case scenario.

Either way he’s now a long shot to be in the lineup on Opening Day, which is less than two weeks away.

Dee Gordon is currently sidelined by an ankle injury of his own, so Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes that the likely Ramirez fill-in would be Luis Cruz. At least assuming it’s a short-term injury rather than the two-month version. As for who would play third base if Cruz shifted to shortstop, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr. could split time and … well, Juan Uribe is still getting paid to do something.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.