Dodgers' Ramirez injures thumb in WBC final

March 20, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Dominican Republic danced through the night, the Dodgers held their breath. They must wait to see if their shortstop can play on Opening Day.

Hanley Ramirez injured his right thumb in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday, in which the Dominican beat Puerto Rico, 3-0. Ramirez is expected to undergo an MRI exam Wednesday in Arizona, according to Dominican Republic general manager Moises Alou.

"I don't think it's bad," Dominican coach Alfredo Griffin said.

Ramirez, playing third base for the Dominican, jammed the thumb while diving for a ground ball in the third inning. He remained in the game, even delivering a single in the fourth inning, but left after five innings.

Ramirez declined comment through a team spokesman. Dominican manager Tony Pena said he removed Ramirez for precautionary reasons, even though Ramirez told Pena he could have gone on.

Dee Gordon would be the likely replacement as Dodgers shortstop, albeit with none of the middle-of-the-order power the Dodgers expect from Ramirez.

If Ramirez is seriously injured, it would mark the second such thumb injury in the National League West this week. Chase Headley, the third baseman and best hitter on the San Diego Padres, is expected to sit out four to six weeks because of a small fracture at the tip of his left thumb.

Ramirez sat out the final four innings of the game, but not the party afterward. He was spotted, in a splint, waving a national flag as the Dominican players partied on the field after the final out. Dominican leader Robinson Cano and Puerto Rico leader Yadier Molina had agreed beforehand that the players from both teams would celebrate together no matter which team won, and indeed the Puerto Ricans stayed on the field as the Dominicans received their victory medals.

"We are brothers," Dominican reliever Octavio Dotel said. "We are friends."

The Caribbean neighbors, and their lively fans, kept up the volume on a cold and dreary night in which rain fell for the final six innings. Edwin Encarnacion doubled home two runs in the first inning, more than enough for a stellar Dominican pitching staff.

Samuel Deduno of the Minnesota Twins combined with four relievers on a three-hitter. The Dominican Republic was 8-0 in the WBC, including three victories against Puerto Rico in which the Dominican pitchers held Puerto Rico scoreless for 23 consecutive innings.

As the Dominican team received a congratulatory phone call from the country's president, officials from Major League Baseball reveled in the lively atmosphere. Commissioner Bud Selig is "1,000% committed" to the next WBC in 2017, perhaps with a field expanded from the 28 countries in this editon, according to Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president.

As confetti fell all around him, to a fan soundtrack of horns and drums, Brosnan dismissed criticism that the WBC cannot succeed if Team USA does not.

"Those are the people who aren't here," he said. "Those are the people who weren't watching."

-- By Bill Shaikin