Los Angeles Dodgers Left Fielder Manny Ramirez is back on the disabled list, this time with a strained right calf.
Ramirez hasn't officially been on the DL since 2002, but the calf strain is just another injury in a string of complications experienced by the slugger over the past several seasons.
As the season moves in to full swing, the pace set by Manny seems to mimic last season's pre-suspension trend. Ramirez has now missed five of the Dodgers' 18 games, and when he is not in the lineup, the numbers certainly reflect his absence.
The tandem of back-ups Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson have combined for 57 at-bats with just 12 hits, a .210 batting average. Thus far in his limited action, Manny is carrying a .415 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, and 12 RBI (Johnson and Anderson have combined for six in 30 games).
The offense has been noticeably lacking the last few games, as suddenly the raw numbers on the scoreboard have turned in to meager digits.
Johnson and Anderson will need to increase production during Manny's stint on the DL for the Dodgers to be productive.
Couple the loss of Ramirez with the most recent member of the disabled list, Vicente Padilla, and the Dodgers are in a world of hurt, literally.
Padilla was sent to the 15-day DL with soreness in his throwing elbow. With only four legitimate starters in the Dodgers' rotation, an absence like Padilla's could be a devastating blow.
LA's major innings-eater out of the 'pen is also on the DL. Jeff Weaver is currently sitting out with a lower back strain.
Although Padilla has yet to be consistent this season, he was capable of going deeper in games, easing the pressure on a struggling bullpen.
Ironically, Dodgers pitching has been sharp and solid since his last start. Following some crooked numbers in Cincinnati against the Reds, the Dodgers and Nationals have combined for 14 runs through 25 innings.
Los Angeles has made some corresponding moves to counter the mounting injuries. Jon Link has again been called up from Triple-A Albuquerque.
He was impressive in his first outing, going two scoreless innings in relief against the Cincinnati Reds. Link will replace Weaver in the bullpen, and will most likely see significant action.
Replacing Padilla will likely be Josh Towers, a pitcher with over 200 innings of major league experience that has been pitching decently at Triple-A.
Towers will slide in to a shaky rotation that desperately needs stability. His role will be filling in every fifth day to reduce the strain on the pitching staff.
Charlie Haeger will move up a day in the rotation, and become the fourth starter while Padilla is out.
Cory Wade is recovering nicely since exploratory shoulder surgery on March 17, his return is set for mid-June. Hong-Chih Kuo's outings have been rough since his return from the DL, and Wade's effectiveness will be utilized immediately upon his return.
Injuries to veterans on the pitching staff means youngsters like Link, Carlos Monasterios, and Ramon Troncoso will have to step up and mature quickly.
If the prospects can find a groove, it will lessen the impact of injured starters and relievers, and the Dodgers will be able to weather the storm.
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