Hanley Ramirez aiming to begin rehab assignment next week

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Hanley Ramirez told Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles last Tuesday that he was going to return from the disabled list “way sooner” than expected. And it appears he wasn’t being overly optimistic.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Ramirez is on track to embark on a minor league rehab assignment next week and is hoping to join the Dodgers after just three games on the farm.

Hanley was given an eight-week rehabilitation timetable when he tore a ligament in his right thumb while playing third base for the Dominican Republic in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He had surgery on March 22 and should be ready for activation by the second week of May. That’s a pretty remarkable recovery for a guy often labeled as apathetic.

The Dodgers have been using Justin Sellers and Luis Cruz at shortstop in Hanley’s absence.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.