Ramirez learning outfield to stay in lineup

Padres' veteran shortstop has seen playing time diminish

Ramirez learning outfield to stay in lineup

LOS ANGELES -- Alexei Ramirez didn't expect to be chasing down fly balls in right field this season -- but then again, not much has gone as planned this year for the Padres' veteran shortstop.

Playing in his ninth big league season, Ramirez -- who struggled during the first half -- has since fallen victim to the Padres' youth movement.

Over the past month, Ramirez has seen his playing time plummet. First, he gave way to prospect Jose Rondon, then Luis Sardinas.

In the meantime, he's taken to learning the corner outfield spots, as a way of getting into the lineup against left-handed pitching -- as he was during Saturday night's 5-1 loss to the Dodgers. Ramirez broke up Rich Hill's no-hitter in with a single in the sixth and made a pair of steady plays in right field.

Ramirez's single breaks up no-no

"It's the situation that we're in right now, where it's the position they're putting me at," Ramirez said. "I'm ready to play, and that's part of being a baseball player -- being ready to play wherever they put you."

At the end of the season, the Padres are unlikely to pick up the $4 million option on Ramirez's contract, which includes a $1 million buyout. Ramirez views himself as a shortstop, and the Padres appear poised to hand the keys to a younger player in 2017 -- with Rondon and Sardinas just two of the options.

Ramirez is well aware of the club's direction, but says he hasn't yet begun thinking of his future -- mainly because he has no say over the team option.

"I just want to finish this season well, but that's something that's out of my hands," Ramirez said. "It's not in my control what happens there, so I just prepare myself, finish the season strong."

Ramirez is hitting just .240/.275/.331 this season -- a career low in OPS. Padres skipper Andy Green says Ramirez has taken the decrease in playing time and the shift to right field like a professional -- especially considering Ramirez hadn't played the outfield since his rookie campaign in 2008.

"He just loves to play baseball," Green said. "I see him fully invested in playing the outfield when he's out there. He's wanting to throw somebody out, he's wanting to track a fly ball down. He likes to be on the field every day.

"It's been a tough adjustment for him, being on the field sporadically. It's different. He's been doing it another way his whole career."

Ramirez didn't have any balls hit to him over the weekend in his outfield debut. But he made a pair of catches Friday and had a chance to throw out Kiké Hernandez at the plate in the fifth inning -- only for his throw to tail up the line.

"If he's out there enough times, he's going to throw somebody out," Green said with a smile. "He's got enough arm strength."

Ross' status remains unclear

Tyson Ross' shoulder soreness hasn't subsided enough to make another rehab start for Lake Elsinore before the Storm's season ends Monday. With that in mind, the Padres have turned their focus toward getting the injured right-hander into a big league game for an inning or so.

Ross hasn't pitched since Opening Day because of shoulder inflammation, and he's had multiple setbacks in his recovery. The most recent came after a rehab start in Lake Elsinore on Thursday, when Ross felt shoulder soreness. He hasn't had a bullpen session since, but is continuing to throw off flat ground.

The club has discussed the possibility of shutting Ross down for the rest of the season. But team doctors have ruled out Ross further injuring his shoulder, so Ross and the team have decided to push forward in his recovery.

"I know he's frustrated," said Green. "It's been a long year for him with a lot of different rehabs going on. He wants to pitch. There's two things I know about Tyson: He wants to be on the mound, and he works harder than anyone I've ever been around."

Jay on the mend

Padres outfielder Jon Jay played six innings in a rehab game for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Saturday night, going 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored.

Jay, who has been sidelined since June with a broken bone in his right forearm, is expected to serve as the Storm's designated hitter Sunday, before playing a full nine innings Monday.

He's slated to join the team for Tuesday's game against Boston, and he'll likely give center fielder Travis Jankowski a much-needed reprieve at some point next week. Jankowski has started every game in center for the Padres since July 22.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.