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Hanley Ramirez says he's in the worst pain of his life; Josh Johnson update

    PHOENIX -- Hanley Ramirez isn't in the lineup, not that it's any great surprise considering how pessimistic he sounded in Los Angeles on Sunday after he left the game with stiffness in his lower back. The $64 million question is how long he'll remain out.

    But it doesn't sound like he'll be back anytime soon, not based on his comments to reporters just a moment ago, even though he and the Marlins are calling it a day-to-day situation.

    "I think it's the worst pain I've had in my life," he said. "I feel it doing anything. I can't put my shoes on. To get up from bed, I've got to take 10 or 15 seconds. I've got to do everything slow."

     Ramirez said that, except for the takeoff and landing, he stood the entire flight from L.A. to Phoenix -- about an hour flight -- to keep his back from stiffening. What's more, he said he's feeling tingling down his left leg.

     "That's not a good sign," he said.

     He said that if he doesn't improve over the next couple of days -- and he has not felt improvement since yesterday -- he'll undergo a MRI.

     "I've been playing with a little pain in my lower back," he said.  "It just got worse with my second swing yesterday. It just got tight and stiff. I couldn't move. I couldn't rotate. I wanted to say in, but Edwin (Rodriguez) told me no. He didn't want me to look bad out there."

        Ramirez said he never told anyone about the pain in his back even though he's felt it for about a month.

      "I wanted to play," he said. "I didn't tell anybody. I know how much pain I've got right now, so that's my concern."

     Said Rodriguez: "It is a concern that Hanley is not able to play. It is a concern that he's experiencing very sharp pain in the lower back, so we have to wait and see."


    And that's not the only discouraging news for the Marlins. Josh Johnson is coming along so slowly from right shoulder inflammation that Rodriguez said a June 7 return date now looks doubtful. Because he doesn't want to have another bullpen day, as he did on Saturday against the Dodgers, Rodriguez said the organization is mulling their minor-league options. Problem is, nothing jumps off the page at Triple A New Orleans, or anywhere else in the system.

     "We've been shuffling some options because I would hate to use a bullpen day again," Rodriguez said. "That would affect your whole bullpen strategy before and after you use a bullpen day. We'll see who's more ready to come up here (from the minors) and give us some innings. The thing is, we already tried that. We called up a starter (Jay Buente) from the minor leagues and he only gave us three innings."


    With Ramirez out, Rodriguez did quite a bit of juggling for tonight's game against the Diamondbacks. Emilio Bonifacio will lead off and play short, Omar Infante gets elevated back the No. 2 spot. And Chris Coghlan drops all the way to 8th. Rodriguez said the decision with Coghlan is based on his .125 average against lefties this season, and the Diamondbacks are sending out a left-hander tonight in Joe Saunders.


    Marlins: 1. Bonifacio, ss; 2. Infante, 2b; 3. Morrison, lf; 4. Sanchez, 1b; 5. Stanton, rf; 6. Dobbs, 3b; 7. Buck, c; 8. Coghlan, cf; 9. Volstad, p.

     And with Ramirez idled, the Marlins have only three position players on their bench, one of whom is backup catcher Brett Hayes. That really leaves only Scott Cousins and Wes Helms as legitimtae pinch-hitting options. Even Cousins is not 100 percent. He fouled a ball off his right foot on Sunday and is limping. Rodriguez said Javier Vazquez would be his first choice among his pitching staff to pinch-hit if necessary. In addition, relievers Brian Sanches, Edward Mujica and Steve Cishek are unavailable for tonight's game. And Burke Badenhop can provide no more than one inning.


     Manager Edwin Rodriguez discusses the Hanley Ramirez injury situation: