L.A. Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez takes the field during spring training. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are going to be sorry to see Hanley Ramirez leave. And with good reason, since the Dodgers minor league players ate well during Ramirez's two-game visit to the Cal League, with Ramirez springing for a postgame spread of steak and ribs both days.
"The guys said it was great," Mike Lindskog, the Quakes' radio play-by-play man, said.
But Rancho Cucamonga doesn't play again until Tuesday in Stockton, by which time Ramirez could be back with the Dodgers. Although he had one tense moment in the fifth inning Sunday when he slid awkwardly trying to avoid a tag, Ramirez was impressive in his rehabilitation assignment, playing flawless shortstop and batting three for six with a double, a run and three runs batted in.
All that may have convinced the team he's ready to return to the lineup. Publicly, however, the Dodgers remain a bit more cautious.
"We don't really have a plan past today," Manager Don Mattingly said Sunday. "Anything's possible with the way he looked. If medical says this guy's ready to play, then it's really basically saying is his timing good enough? Is he going to struggle for a game or two. Or five? Or none?"
If the team decides Ramirez needs to extend his rehab, Mattingly said he would probably go to triple-A Albuquerque.
A former National League batting champion and a three-time All-Star, Ramirez hasn't played since tearing a ligament in his thumb during the March 17 World Baseball Classic final. Doctors originally projected he would be out until late May.
Yasiel Puig is arrested
Highly touted Dodgers outfield prospect Yasiel Puig was booked into the Hamilton County, Tenn., jail early Sunday after being arrested in Chattanooga on suspicion of speeding, reckless driving and driving without proof of insurance.
"We're aware of it," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said. "We take it seriously. We'll be handling discipline internally."
Puig was released on his own recognizance and faces a May 14 hearing in a Hamilton County courtroom.
This isn't the first time Puig's behavior has been an issue. This month he was benched and disciplined by double-A Chattanooga Manager Jody Reed for a "mental mistake," adding to questions about his maturity. Because of those doubts, the team took the unusual step of assigning former big league pitcher Eddie Oropesa to act as his interpreter and mentor during spring training and in Chattanooga.
The Dodgers signed Puig, a 22-year-old Cuban defector, to a seven-year, $42-million contract in June and he nearly stole a spot on the opening-day roster after an impressive spring in which he hit .517 in 27 games. He was eventually optioned to Chattanooga, where he was hitting .333 before going on the disabled list nine days ago because of a sprained left thumb.