ST. LOUIS — The Los Angeles Dodgers expect to have ailing shortstop Hanley Ramirez in their Game 6 lineup Friday night at Busch Stadium, but they will be watching him closely for signs that his fractured rib is preventing him from swinging the bat effectively.
“I think he’ll try to play,” Manager Don Mattingly said of Ramirez, who suffered a hairline fracture of his rib after being drilled by a Joe Kelly fastball in Game 1. “We don’t feel like he’s getting any worse. . . . But I do feel like it’s not going to fully heal as long as he’s swinging the bat.”
Ramirez, the Dodgers’ best hitter when healthy — and he played in only 86 games this season while dealing with various ailments — is just 2 for 12 with no extra-base hits and one RBI in the series. He sat out Game 4 because of soreness and has been removed in the late innings at other times.
“Even though he hasn’t gotten any hits, [in Wednesday’s Game 5] I thought he had a couple of swings that looked more like himself,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, not 100 percent like himself but better. He's just going to have to be honest with us. I don't need a hero from the standpoint that ‘I can go out there, but I know I'm not going to be able to do anything.’ We won't play him like that.”
Mattingly said he also expects center fielder Andre Ethier to play in Game 6. Ethier has been slowed by a sore ankle and like Ramirez was held out of Game 2.
The Boston Red Sox inserted rookie Xander Bogaerts, who played only 18 regular season games with the club, into the starting lineup for Game 5, replacing Will Middlebrooks at third base. Middlebrooks was 1 for 10 with five strikeouts in the ALCS and 4 for 23 in the postseason.
“I would expect that Will would find his way back on the field in these remaining games, particularly in this series,” Manager John Farrell said. “In the conversation with him, yeah, he’s not real happy.”
Bogaerts, who began the year at Class AA Portland and turned 21 on Oct. 1, became the youngest Red Sox player to start in a postseason game, surpassing Babe Ruth in the 1916 World Series. Bogaerts had appeared in four postseason games, largely as a defensive replacement, and was 1 for 2 with two walks.
“He’s not scared,” first baseman Mike Napoli said.
The Red Sox have struggled as a whole, but the offensive problems on the left side of their infield were particularly acute over the first four games. Shortstop Stephen Drew entered Game 5 just 1 for 13 in the ALCS and 3 for 28 in the postseason. But Farrell said he also liked Bogaerts’s approach in his limited playing time, including an at-bat against Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit that resulted in a double in Game 4. . . .
With rain in Detroit all afternoon, neither team was able to take on-field batting practice Thursday. . . . Tigers Manager Jim Leyland made one small tweak to his lineup, moving second baseman Omar Infante up to sixth and dropping catcher Alex Avila to seventh.
Svrluga reported from Detroit.
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Box score: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3