The Los Angeles Dodgers must figure out how to replace Hanley Ramirez in the lineup for the next eight weeks while the shortstop recovers from a torn ligament in his right thumb. Manager Don Mattingly has several options, but is not sure which one will get the job done.
“To be honest with you, I’m not comfortable with anything that’s going on at short right now,” Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times.
It a well-known fact that third baseman Luis Cruz is the top candidate to replace Ramirez. The right-handed batter is hitting .278 with two home runs and five RBI in 36 at-bats this spring. Obviously, this does not match Ramirez’s talent offensively, but it is better than going with Dee Gordon, who struggled mightily at the plate in 2012.
Cruz has appeared in 66 games at shortstop in his young career in which he has posted a .983 fielding percentage with five errors in 299 total chances. There is no question Cruz is the best option to replace Ramirez and will in all likelihood start Opening Day.
With Cruz moving over to shortstop, Juan Uribe and Jerry Hairston Jr. will most likely see shared time at third base. Uribe is dominating in Spring Training, as he is batting .350 with one home run, six RBI and three doubles in 40 at-bats. However, he batted only .199 in 432 at-bats with the Dodgers the past two seasons. Not to mention, his .251 career batting average is not very enticing.
Meanwhile, Hairston is hitting a meager .214 with one homer and five RBI in 28 at-bats in Spring Training. The 15-year veteran hits for a higher average than Uribe and showed success in that area last season. Hairston is also a talented utility infielder who would lock down the third base position defensively.
Mattingly’s options are decent compared to what most teams would be going through if one of their star infielders went down for two months. However, he does not feel completely comfortable with any of them because he was set on Ramirez being his shortstop for the entire season.