After being the major catalyst in the Los Angeles Dodgers turnaround from last place to National League West champions in 2013, Hanley Ramirez was expected to lead them once again this season.
In just 86 games last year, the slugging shortstop hit .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs. He missed time with a thumb injury and a shoulder injury before being rendered ineffective in the postseason with a broken rib. This year, Ramirez has had injuries to just about every body part with the latest being an elbow strain.
Don Mattingly broke down his shortstop’s season full of injury via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
I think it’s hardest on him,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Ramirez, who missed Wednesday’s game because of a sore elbow. “We’re fortunate to have a number of players of Hanley’s caliber. If you only have one or two and they go down a lot, it puts you in a different-type setting. I think with us, we’ve got a number of guys capable of going out and putting up numbers and carrying the club in a sense. So it’s been OK.
“Obviously, you know you’re better if he’s in there daily. I think the biggest trouble is for him, himself, being able to stay on the field consistently.”
The 30-year-old has played in 120 games and is hitting .269 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI. He has not had the same impact in the lineup as he did last year.
Mattingly thinks he knows why:
It hasn’t been as good this year as last year, obviously,” Mattingly said. “Every year is a little different, timing-wise, and what’s going on with guys is a little off here and there. I still think time off is not the best thing for you.
“I kind of felt it was remarkable (last year) the way he was able to come back in and kind of jump right back on it. This year, he hasn’t been able to do it as consistently.”
The Dodgers will need Ramirez to recover from his bumps and bruises and find the timing that made him one of the hottest hitters in the game if they plan to make an extended run in the postseason.