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Hanley sits out with irritated back nerve

LOS ANGELES -- Hanley Ramirez has an irritated nerve in his back, the Dodgers announced Friday. The club said the shortstop received a cortisone injection and is expected to be available to play next week.

This is not a new injury for Ramirez, who spent 15 days on the disabled list in 2011 with a lower left back strain when he was with the Marlins. Ramirez had an MRI exam Friday afternoon, and the Dodgers said it showed no difference in comparison to an MRI exam of the same area in 2011.

Ramirez exited Thursday's game after six innings with what the Dodgers said was a tight left hamstring. Manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez has dealt with tightness in his hamstring for a few weeks and the shortstop indicated to him a few days ago that it could have resulted from a nerve.

"It really makes a lot more sense to us now," Mattingly said. "This thing has been off and on. He'll tighten up and the next day he's fine. A couple days later, he'll feel something and then he's fine."

Ramirez did not answer questions after Thursday's game and was not at the ballpark Friday when the media was allowed in the clubhouse.

The Dodgers have a comfortable lead over Arizona in the National League West and are in position to clinch the division as early as Sunday, so the club does not have to rush Ramirez back to action.

"We're going to be able to rest him," Mattingly said. "We don't have to push him out there at this point. We'll be careful with him as far as making sure that when he gets back out there, we're on the other side of it."

The shortstop had three at-bats Thursday before he came out of the game. Ramirez ran hard on an infield single in the first inning, struck out in the third and jogged to first on a routine grounder in the fifth. He did not appear to be limited defensively.

"All of a sudden it just got a little farther than they're comfortable with," Mattingly said. "I really think we're trying to be cautious and make sure it doesn't get worse. But what Hanley was telling us last night was not something we haven't been hearing for two to three weeks."

Nick Punto started at shortstop Friday, and Mattingly said he plans to also use Dee Gordon while Ramirez is sidelined.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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