Ramirez is out close to eight weeks, but Dodgers believe they're deep enough to withstand it.
By JOE McDONNELLFS West
GLENDALE, AZ -- "Injuries happen in baseball,"
Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti said matter-of-factly when he learned shortstop
Hanley Ramirez needed surgery on a torn thumb ligament. "And there's never a good time for them to happen."
Some times are better than others, though, and this might be one of those times for the Dodgers. And it might not.
Ramirez tore the right thumb ligament in the World Baseball Classic final, as Ramirez's Dominican Republic took its first Classic championship by beating Puerto Rico. He'll have the surgery Friday morning and is expected to be on the disabled for approximately eight weeks. However, while losing a former batting champion and potential All Star shortstop for two months sounds ominous for a pressure-filled pennant contender like the Dodgers, it really isn't.
With Guggenheim Partners owning and running the team now, their deep pockets have allowed Colletti to piece together a deep roster that should be able to withstand Ramirez' absence.
Last year's Opening Day starter, Dee Gordon, will probably get first crack at the regular job, followed by projected starting third baseman Luis Cruz, utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. and the seemingly forgotten Juan Uribe. No, the perpetually out of shape Uribe can't play short, but he can take over at third if Cruz has to play there until Ramirez return.
Uribe is a perfect reflection of the Guggenheim effect.
Owed seven million on the last year of his contract, Uribe can be kept around instead of traded in a salary dump, because what's seven million to a team that that has financial backing of over 100 BILLION dollars? And if Uribe continues to hit the way he has this spring—. 350, 1 HR 6 RBI—he might actually earn some of the 14 million the Dodgers have already paid him.
While Colletti would much rather have a healthy Ramirez, he's not down on the World Baseball Classic and he is happy with his team's chances of staying above water until Hanley gets back.
"The (WBC) is great for baseball," he said, reiterating, "Injuries can happen at any time. And with Cruz and Dee, we know what we have out there. No need for auditioning. They've been auditioning for us during the past three or four weeks.
"I have no intention of making a trade—as least not right now.
There are options available outside the Dodger organization if Colletti realizes that he can't play Cruz or Gordon on a full-time basis.
He can platoon them, he could contact 2010 World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, who announced his retirement Thursday, or he can try—again—to talk All Star and Gold Glove third baseman Scott Rolen into playing one more year.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly has said that he finds Rolen an intriguing possibility for the team, but Colletti intimated that the ship has sailed on that one.
"Scott had some interest a while ago and so did we," Colletti said Thursday in Tucson. "And that's where it stands right now—he HAD interest. We haven't heard anything from his side."
Mattingly may have given the clearest view on the Dodger shortstop situation when he told reporters "To be honest, I'm not comfortable with anything that's going on at short right now."