The Dodgers have moved into a virtual tie with the Giants for first-place in the National League West, but they have mostly done it without Hanley Ramirez in recent days. He’s out of the lineup tonight for the sixth time in the last seven games as he continues to be banged up.
Ramirez missed four straight games due to irritation of the AC joint in his right shoulder before returning to action on Saturday, but he made it through just three innings prior to tweaking his left calf. He’s out of the lineup for the second straight game tonight, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that the injury is not expected to require a stint on the disabled list.
Ramirez hasn’t been nearly as productive at the plate this season as he was last year, but he’s still been plenty valuable with a .272/.358/.471 with 11 home runs, 46 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 74 games.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.