Jorge De La Rosa to begin throwing program Friday

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Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery back in early June. He’s made good progress thus far and has managed to avoid setbacks, so the Rockies’ medical staff has cleared him to take a major step.

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, De La Rosa will begin a throwing program on September 23. He’ll be limited to light games of catch initially, but the 30-year-old southpaw should begin throwing bullpen sessions by the middle of winter and could be ready to appear in simulated games by the start of the 2012 regular season.

De La Rosa posted a 3.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 52/22 K/BB ratio in 19 starts this season before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament. If he returns in 2012, it won’t happen until the middle of the summer.

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.