Dodgers infielder tests strained hamstring with six innings at Class A
Special to MLB.com
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Hanley Ramirez hit a high bouncer to shortstop and then ran down to first base, only to be retired in routine fashion.
The fifth-inning RBI groundout was a part of an uneventful but encouraging night for Ramirez, who, playing in his first rehabilitation game since straining his right hamstring May 3, went 0-for-2 with a walk for the Class A California League's Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
The good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers infielder is that he was able to play pain-free.
Ramirez batted second and played shortstop for the Quakes as they lost, 14-7, to the Bakersfield Blaze at Sam Lynn Ballpark on Friday night.
"I'm tired but I feel good," Ramirez said. "There wasn't any pain or nothing like that. I couldn't get on base but let's see tomorrow."
Despite going hitless, Ramirez demonstrated that his defensive skills are already back in top form. During the second inning he made a brilliant play to rob the Blaze of a hit.
After going to his backhand to field a grounder deep in the hole between second and third, Ramirez did a pirouette in the air and, still off-balance, rifled the ball to first for an out.
"I have been taking ground balls for the last two weeks, so I feel pretty good [in the field]," he said.
As planned ahead of time, the 2009 National League batting champion and two-time Silver Slugger winner didn't play the entire game. He was lifted for a sub after six innings.
Ramirez's well-publicized appearance at Sam Lynn Ballpark helped the Blaze draw its first sellout crowd of the season.
Ramirez, who incurred the hamstring injury running from first to third during a game against the San Francisco Giants, has spent the past several weeks rehabbing his sore leg with hot and cold treatments, crunches and various other exercises.
He said the leg has felt 100 percent healthy for almost a week.
The injured limb wasn't tested much in his return to action as Ramirez walked and then struck out swinging in his first two at-bats.
His only strenuous running came during his last plate appearance, when with runners on second and third and one out, he hit a 1-2 pitch on the ground to Blaze shortstop Juan Perez. Ramirez was thrown out as the runner scored from third.
Rancho Cucamonga manager Carlos Subero said Ramirez will likely spend the entire weekend with the Quakes. The Dodgers want to see how Ramirez's injured hamstring responds to the rigors of playing shortstop and running the bases in game situations before deciding when he'll return to the big club.
"They want to take it day to day," Subero said. "They're not in any rush."
Ramirez is optimistic the rehab assignment will go well and he'll be able to rejoin the Dodgers by Tuesday.
"I'm here to test the leg and see how it responds after four weeks [of not playing]," Ramirez said. "Try to to run hard and everything will go well and I can go back to L.A."
Ramirez admits it's been a trying season so far because of his inability to stay healthy. He's played in only four games and had 11 at-bats with the Dodgers.
The three-time Major League All-Star missed nearly the entire first month of the season after suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb during the World Baseball Classic back in March. That injury required surgery.
Ramirez said his hand hasn't completely healed yet.
"I try not to think about that," Ramirez said. "I always put positive thoughts in my mind. That's not something that's going to keep me off the field."
According to Ramirez, all the injuries have helped him become mentally tougher.
"It's been tough this year to stay healthy, but I'm going to keep fighting," Ramirez said. "... I've been working hard to get stronger."