Hanley has MRI on hamstring; Kemp has setback
Among many ailing Dodgers, infielder may be headed back to DL
LOS ANGELES -- Hanley Ramirez could be headed back to the disabled list with a hamstring issue, and Matt Kemp won't return from his hamstring problem as soon as the Dodgers had hoped.
Ramirez had an MRI exam on his ailing left hamstring on Sunday. He's been out of the lineup four straight days since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday.
Playing without Ramirez and outfielder Andre Ethier, still sore from fouling a ball of his right foot on Saturday night, the Dodgers lost to the Braves, 8-1, on Sunday afternoon.
While Mattingly didn't have Ramirez's MRI results after the game, it sounded like a roster move was coming on Monday.
"We can't continue to play short," the manager said. "You can't play the National League game like that. We can't continue to do this. If you can't play, for me, you have to be on the DL. We can't be trying to hang on and give a guy an extra three days. If you play short in this league, you're just giving games away. That's what we're trying to do. If you can't play, you just can't play."
Ramirez delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning of Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Braves, but was immediately removed for pinch-runner Clayton Kershaw.
"If you can't play full speed, it's tough, especially if he's playing short," Mattingly said of Ramirez. "He can hit, but he can't run."
Ramirez played in three rehab games, including one as the designated hitter, with Class A Rancho Cucamonga last weekend before he was activated. But by Thursday, his hamstring was again causing problems.
"I think the players really have to push themselves in the rehabs to the point where, can you go full speed or not?" Mattingly said. "I think you go the Minor Leagues and you don't play full speed and you think, 'Oh, I'm ready.' And then you get here and you try to go full speed. Not saying this is anybody's fault; it's just the reality of what's going on."
Kemp suffered a setback during a workout to test his strained right hamstring on Sunday morning.
Kemp, who had been rehabbing in Arizona at the Dodgers' Spring Training facility at Camelback Ranch-Glendale before Sunday, worked out on the field at Dodger Stadium under the watchful eyes of the team's medical staff. The All-Star stretched, ran sprints and did a variety of agility drills. But his hamstring bothered him and the Dodgers don't anticipate activating Kemp when he's eligible on Friday.
"We've hit a little bit of a snag, because he felt just a little something today still," Mattingly said. "He's still not there yet. We're not where we need to be with him. We do know that he's not 100 percent."
Sore right foot may keep Ethier out Monday
LOS ANGELES -- A sore right foot kept Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale with the Braves.
Ethier was still sore Sunday afternoon after fouling a pitch off his foot in a fourth inning strikeout during Saturday night's 2-1 loss. Ethier limped out of the clubhouse after that game. He did not play in an 8-1 loss and is questionable for Monday's opener against the D-backs.
"He was unavailable," manager Don Mattingly said after Sunday's game. "He tried to swing early in the day and wasn't able to do it. I don't know where we'll be [Monday] with that."
Ethier is hitting .229 with four homers and 15 RBIs through 59 games. The former All-Star has a .348 slugging percentage and is reaching base at a .316 clip.
"He just hasn't been as consistent as we're used to seeing out of him and I know that concerns him, and concerns us also," Mattingly said. "We're trying to get him back to his old self."
With Hanley Ramirez out and outfielders Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford also sidelined by hamstring issues, Mattingly had rookie Scott Van Slyke as the cleanup hitter and Luis Cruz, hitting .136, behind him.
"They're definitely not the guys we were counting on coming out of Spring Training," the manager said. "It's frustrating when your middle- [of-the-order] guys are out."
Van Slyke went 0-for-4 and left six on base Sunday. Cruz struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning and finished 1-for-4 with a double.
At Triple-A, Gordon starts at second for first time
LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon started at second base for the first time this season with Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday as the Dodgers look to expand Gordon's versatility.
Gordon pivoted on a pair of double plays and went 2-for-3 with a run scored at the top of the lineup. While Gordon has exclusively been a shortstop with the Dodgers in 152 Major League games since his debut in 2011, it appears the club is exploring different avenues to find playing time for Gordon down the road in the big leagues.
Second base is something new for Gordon, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he only recently learned about the idea.
"I haven't ever seen him over there," Mattingly said on Sunday. "I hadn't heard anything about it until the other day."
The organization is also considering using Gordon in the outfield.
Hanley Ramirez is blocking Gordon at shortstop, though Ramirez has started just five games there this season due to a lingering hamstring issue and a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery in March.
Gordon could also provide potential insurance for veteran second baseman Mark Ellis, who is nursing a strained right groin. Ellis, 36, has seen his playing time shrink as the Dodgers look to avoid aggravating the injury to keep him off the disabled list.
"Every time he plays, I guess we take a chance of it going the other direction," Mattingly said. "It's not really lingering, but we're trying to get rid of it."
The rest of the club's aging infield is not healthy, either. Nick Punto, 35, is playing through a sore back. Jerry Hairston, 37, has been hampered by groin and knee issues.
While Gordon hit .176 in 63 at-bats in May, when he started 16 games at shortstop after Ramirez strained his left hamstring, the Dodgers covet his speed. That's an area that is lacking on the current club, as ace Clayton Kershaw pinch-ran for Ramirez on Saturday night.
Dodger Stadium hosts Pitch, Hit & Run event
LOS ANGELES -- The outfield at Dodger Stadium was buzzing with excitement and full of energy on Sunday, as kids ages 7-14 participated in Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run competition.
Sunday's event featured the team championship program representing the Dodgers. The top three scores in each age and gender group out of all 30 MLB team championships will advance to the Pitch, Hit & Run national finals held at Citi Field in New York City during MLB All-Star Week in July.
The program is the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball," with more than 600,000 kids participating across North America in 2013 in girls softball and boys baseball divisions. Pitch, Hit & Run provides youth with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level. Over 4,000 local competitions take place each year, hosted by organizations, leagues or volunteers within a community.
Below are the winners of Sunday's competition:
7-8-year-old girls age division: Brielle Minor
9-10-year-old girls age division: Myla Pellegrini
11-12-year-old girls age division: Anica Cuevas
13-14-year-old girls age division: Dominique Garcia
7-8-year-old boys age division: Bryce Rainer
9-10-year-old boys age division: Mikey Easter
11-12-year-old boys age division: Jaden Lyburtus
13-14-year-old boys age division: Levi Horner-Villa
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.