The Dodgers found out that one of their superstars might be hampered by an injury for the rest of October on Monday.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times broke the news via Twitter:
Mattingly: It could take a week or 2 for Hanley's rib fracture to heal.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 14, 2013
Ramirez may still try to play through his injury, but he missed Saturday's game with the injury, and it won't be healed anytime soon.
The CT scan Hanley Ramirez took yesterday showed a fracture on the 8th rib. He is a game time decision. #Dodgers— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 14, 2013
Having dealt with injuries all season, Ramirez sustained this new one against Joe Kelly in Game 1 of the NLCS when he was hit by a pitch.
Ramirez looked like he was in serious pain at the time, but he finished the game. However, he may have aggravated it, as he was held out of Game 2.
Bleacher Report's own Will Carroll weighed in on Ramirez's injury:
The fracture on Hanley Ramirez is not uncommon, especially given the fastball directly to the area. The injury has two components: stability and pain. First, the medical staff will determine if the area is stable, keeping the torso both stable and protected from things like, well, more fastballs. Since the fracture is not large or displaced, the rib is likely stable.
Second, it's about pain management. The body doesn't like having it's primary protector injured and the area has a lot of nerve endings. Even breathing can be painful. If Ramirez can move comfortably, he has a chance to play, but swinging and worse, diving could be very painful, so Nick Punto will have to stay warm throughout the night.
According to our injury expert, it sounds like Ramirez's injury is going to leave him as a question mark for the rest of the series.
Ramirez is going to try to play through the injury, as he was seen fielding ground balls and taking batting practice on Monday.
Hanley Ramirez is taking ground balls at shortstop during BP. He is not giving up on this.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 14, 2013
Hanley really let it go in second round of BP. Full extension. Hit line-drive HR to RCF.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 14, 2013
Hanley; "I'm going to play"— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 14, 2013
Ramirez and the Dodgers know that he is pushing his limits right now, however, and he will be wearing protective body armor for Monday's game.
The hope is that Ramirez can play like he's 100 percent, but he will likely be slowed down by the injury and struggle.
The Dodgers have dealt with Ramirez's injuries all season. He played in just 86 games this year. In that time he hit .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI. The team went 55-31 with him in the lineup. However, it went 37-39 without him, showing just how badly Los Angeles needs its star shortstop.
Having a Ramirez who is clearly not 100 percent, or only having him as a pinch-hitter as he plays through the injury, could mean the end of the Dodgers' season. His offense is crucial to the team's success, and missing that key piece could be devastating.
Ramirez generated 119 runs in his 86 games, knocking in 57 and scoring 62. He was the catalyst that sparked L.A.'s offense, but having him even limited from the injury spells trouble for the Dodgers.
Injury guru Will Carroll touched on the point that replacement Nick Punto may be called upon at any time because of Ramirez's fractured rib. If Ramirez aggravates his injury further and Punto is asked to play, the Dodgers might as well start polishing their golf clubs.
Punto batted 90 points lower than Ramirez and has just two home runs and 21 RBI in 30 more games.
What's more, Ramirez had been tearing it up in the playoffs. He was batting .444 with six RBI and five walks in the team's first five games. The team was 3-2 with him, but it was shut out in the only game he's missed in October.
For a team that has shown offensive lapses at times, the Dodgers can't afford to lose the man who gets things rolling on offense. If Ramirez struggles at all or misses time, L.A. is in trouble. The team relied on its pitching to make it this far (3.25 ERA, second-lowest in MLB), but now it needs to start scoring runs, as it scored just two runs in 18 innings to start the series.
With Ramirez likely to fall into a slump, the Dodgers will be forced to look to their other stars to make up for his lack of production.
That offense won't be coming from Andre Ethier. He has has only played fully in one game this postseason and has been relegated to the role of pinch-hitter this postseason due to his recent injury woes.
That leaves guys like Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez to pick up the slack.
Puig ended the regular season on a low note, batting .214 in the month of September and going 4-for-31 in his last 10 games. While Puig has been doing better in October (.296 batting average), his lack of power is disturbing. He is still looking for his first career postseason home run, and he's recorded just two RBI in six games.
Gonzalez also struggled a bit in September. He hit for average (.282 in September), but he hit just three home runs and failed to provide the power bat that the Dodgers need so badly.
While Gonzalez already has a home run this postseason, it came in the first game, and he hasn't hit one since. He also has just two RBI compared to seven strikeouts in the team's last five games.
Puig and Gonzalez will both need to break out in big ways if the Dodgers are going to come back in this series. Otherwise the team will rely almost entirely on Carl Crawford (.333 BA, 3 HR, 5 RBI this postseason) to score runs.
The Dodgers may have had a chance to win the series with a gimpy Ramirez if it had just started, but the team is in an early hole.
Down 2-0 with the prospect of facing Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright and a red-hot Michael Wacha (14.0 IP, 0.64 ERA this postseason) at least one more time, the Dodgers have no room for error.
There's still a chance that the Dodgers pull off a miraculous comeback if Ramirez finds a way to help the team's offense, but things are looking bleak in L.A.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.