SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez was not in the starting lineup Thursday, but he said his bruised hand had improved enough overnight that he expects to play Friday night vs. the D-backs at Dodger Stadium.
"I'm not going to try to play tomorrow. I'm going to be there," said Ramirez, who was struck on the back of the left hand by a Ryan Vogelsong fastball Wednesday night. X-rays were negative.
The injury is to Ramirez's bottom hand when he grips a bat. Because he represented the go-ahead run leading off the top of the seventh inning, Ramirez said he did not believe the pitch was intentional.
"Everybody knows it wasn't on purpose," he said. "It's part of the game."
Ramirez said he believes his teammates protect him. Manager Don Mattingly said opponents generally pitch Ramirez inside, as most teams do with most dangerous hitters.
"Guys that can hit, you want them off the plate," he said. "We pay attention. We'll protect our guys."
Kershaw turns up heat in latest bullpen session
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, currently on the disabled list, had his most aggressive bullpen session yet Thursday.
Kershaw threw 35 pitches, with a five-minute break in between to simulate the up and down of an inning. He threw breaking balls off a mound for the first time and finished with a lively fastball that appeared well in excess of the mid-80s restriction he's been under.
"He had a little more velocity, but I didn't see any 95s," said Don Mattingly, the manager of expectations with Kershaw. "He threw harder than the day before. He'll throw every other day."
Kershaw still needs to continue building arm strength, but he appears healed from the teres major muscle strain he suffered in Australia. Mattingly would not speculate when Kershaw would be ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
Dodgers kick off program to bring kids to games
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers are launching Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball, a community program designed to bring low-income youth and their families to Dodgers games.
The club will host 250 youngsters at 51 Dodgers home games this season. They will be bused to Dodger Stadium and receive a game ticket, a voucher for a Dodger Dog, a beverage and a Kids 4 Dodgers T-shirt.
"It is our pleasure to launch Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball and host children at our games who otherwise may not get the opportunity to experience 'Blue Heaven on Earth'," said Dodgers owner Magic Johnson. "Our success on the field is just as important as how successful we are off the field in the L.A. community. I believe Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball is a very special addition to the Dodgers' community outreach programs."
Each Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball group is preselected and chosen through an application process. Groups interested in being considered for the Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball program can contact the Dodgers' community relations department by applying online at www.dodgers.com/K4DB starting Friday or by calling 323-224-1435.
On Friday, 250 youngsters from Catholic Charities of Los Angeles will attend the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.