Hanley Ramirez to begin minor league rehab assignment today

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While the Dodgers could be without Mark Ellis for a while, Hanley Ramirez’s return is right around the corner.

According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, Ramirez is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment today with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. His rehab stint is expected to consist of at least three games, but he could be activated as soon as Tuesday against the Rockies if all goes well. Tuesday has been his stated goal for a few weeks now, as it is Hanley Ramirez bobblehead day at Dodger Stadium. Hey, whatever works.

Ramirez required surgery after he tore the ligament in his right thumb in the World Baseball Classic title game on March 19. He was originally expected to miss around eight weeks, so he’s on pace to return well ahead of schedule.

Ramirez, 29, batted .257/.322/.437 with 24 home runs, 92 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .759 OPS in 157 games last season between Los Angeles and Miami. Justin Sellers has drawn the majority of the starts at shortstop during his absence.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉