Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez says he expects to be back on the field… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
Hanley Ramirez, wonder boy, is about to take on his next test.
Ramirez continues to make strong progress from his March 22 thumb surgery, so much so that he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. He was not originally expected to be back until mid-May, but he appears to be well ahead of schedule.
Manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez has continued hitting while wearing a splint, and his bigger concern is how he’s able to grip the ball before throwing.
“I’m not worried about him offensively at all,” Mattingly said. “He has to be able to catch it and throw it like everyone else.”
Mattingly said Ramirez will return as a shortstop and not third baseman, which is not unexpected but still slightly disheartening. Ramirez struggled defensively at shortstop for the Dodgers last season with a good thumb.
Rancho Cucamonga is at home this weekend, and after an off-day Monday, travels to Stockton. Mattingly didn’t seem to think two rehab games would be nearly enough. The Dodgers are home through Wednesday.
“Monday would be pretty optimistic,” he said.
Ramirez continued to take pregame grounders Friday. The thumb does not appear to impair his throwing, but sometimes appears to double grip the ball before his throws. He is scheduled to receive a smaller thumb splint Saturday before playing for Rancho.
The Dodgers are off next Thursday, but Mattingly said he does not expect to skip Stephen Fife in the rotation before next weekend’s game in San Francisco.
However, Chris Capuano (calf strain) will be eligible to come off the disabled list that weekend. Capuano has continued to throw while on the DL, and Mattingly said he would pitch a simulated game Sunday before making one rehab start.