Hanley Ramirez has cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Hanley Ramirez is still a few weeks away from joining the Dodgers’ lineup, but he’s making encouraging progress from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

According to Tyler Emerick of MLB.com, Ramirez had the cast removed from his thumb yesterday. The 29-year-old reported feeling pain-free and has better range of motion than he originally expected.

“It feels awesome,” Ramirez said. “I’m definitely happy with it right now, the ligament has gotten a lot stronger already.”

Ramirez was already taking one-handed swings and fielding grounders prior to yesterday, but he should soon be able to test his thumb by making some throws. He will gradually increase his workload from there before going out on a minor league rehab assignment. Ramirez was given an eight-week timetable at the time of his surgery on March 22, so he’s likely looking at a return in late May.

Justin Sellers has functioned as the primary shortstop during Ramirez’s absence and is hitting .192 (5-for-26) with one home run in nine games.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.