By Steve Dilbeck
5:39 PM EST, January 17, 2013
Dodgers infielder Hanley Ramirez made the Dominican Republic national team for the World Baseball Classic on Thursday, and that’s bad news. That’s unnecessary trouble.
Understand, the Dodgers insist that they are going into spring training with Ramirez as their starting shortstop. Anyone who watched him struggle defensively in his return to short with the Dodgers has to be justifiably concerned. Or plain frightened.
The Dodgers know Ramirez at short isn’t the perfect scenario, but with Dee Gordon struggling, figure it as their best, first option. To help him better reacquaint himself at short -- the Miami Marlins had moved him to third last season after they acquired Jose Reyes -- the Dodgers wanted him to play short during winter ball.
But Ramirez suffered an early minor shoulder injury playing in the Dominican [corrected] and ended up a designated hitter, not playing short or anywhere in the field.
And now he’ll potentially miss most of spring training – and he's unlikely to play any shortstop for the Dominicans.
Reyes figures to be their starting shortstop. And with Adrian Beltre at third and Robinson Cano at second, Ramirez is likely looking at DHing yet again. Plus, the Dominicans have strong-fielding Erik Aybar as the backup at short. The Dominicans list Ramirez as a third baseman.
If the Dominicans play through the first round, Ramirez is looking at not joining the Dodgers until a couple of days after March 10. If they advance to the second round, he wouldn't be back until after March 16, and if the Dominicans advance to the finals –- a real possibility, they’re the early favorite –- it wouldn't be until after the championship game March 19.
The finals are in San Francisco [corrected].
That means he’d barely be able to practice a week with the Dodgers before their season opener April 1.
Exactly when was he going to master shortstop and ease team concerns? It’s not going to happen.
The Dodgers really need to shelve the idea of Ramirez at shortstop. Maybe this is the excuse they need. They could put Luis Cruz at short, and although he’s no gold glove there, he still seems a better overall option than Ramirez.
Then they can put Ramirez at third when he finally returns.