Hanley Ramirez unlikely to be ready for Opening Day after WBC injury

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Hanley Ramirez is headed for an MRI exam on the thumb injury he suffered in the World Baseball Classic title game, so the Dodgers will have a clearer picture of his status tomorrow.

In the meantime manager Don Mattingly indicated the early word on Ramirez is that he’ll miss at least two weeks and could miss 8-10 weeks in a worst-case scenario.

Either way he’s now a long shot to be in the lineup on Opening Day, which is less than two weeks away.

Dee Gordon is currently sidelined by an ankle injury of his own, so Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes that the likely Ramirez fill-in would be Luis Cruz. At least assuming it’s a short-term injury rather than the two-month version. As for who would play third base if Cruz shifted to shortstop, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr. could split time and … well, Juan Uribe is still getting paid to do something.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.