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.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.