Dodgers lose a key piece for two months

Thumbnail image for dodger-dogs-sign-lao.jpgOutside of Los Angeles, most of the media baseball analysts have focused on the questions looming for the Dodgers this season. They have the sport's biggest payroll, but a caution-inducing lack of sure-things in their projected lineup. Now one of their main questions, Hanley Ramirez — can he play a passable shortstop, and will he return to stud status as a hitter? — won't be involved at all for two months or so. He tore a ligament in his right thumb playing third base for the Dominican Republic in the final game of the World Baseball Championships in San Francisco. Healing time is two months for the injury, and possibly longer to regain a power stroke. (Which the Dodgers weren't sure existed anymore anyway.) Ramirez will have surgery Friday.

The possible replacements are nothing special at bat, but at least they will probably field better than Ramirez. The Dodgers were apparently one of the few teams that think he can play shortstop well enough to win. Meanwhile, there seems to be good news about the Dodgers' other big health question mark. New pitcher Zack Greinke, who the Dodgers made the highest-paid righthander in history, has been complaining of a sore arm, and the Dodgers were concerned enough to have him checked out by a doctor back in Los Angeles. But he pitched four innings yesterday and says he will be ready to go when the season starts in two weeks.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Sports stories on LA Observed:
Partner practice makes perfect
Local kid makes an impression at the BNP Paribas Open
Now who do I root for? World Cup down to its final eight
Yes, there will still be a World Cup. No, the USA is not playing. So what now?
Dodger Stadium announcement
The night Kirk Gibson made deadline
They said it in Indian Wells
The kids on court at Indian Wells