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.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.