Hanley likely to return on Thursday

Hanley likely to return on Thursday

NEW YORK -- Chances are improving that Hanley Ramirez will be back in the starting lineup soon. It just may be another day.

Ramirez's sore right hand kept him out of the series finale with the Mets on Wednesday afternoon, but Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez puts the odds at 80 percent that the All-Star shortstop will return on Thursday night, when they open a four-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I'd say it's 80-20 for tomorrow," Gonzalez said of Ramirez being back for the first game in Chicago.

In the first inning on Monday at Citi Field, Ramirez absorbed a 94 mph John Maine fastball on the side of his right hand, just above the wrist. Ramirez was immediately taken out of that game, and he was held out on Tuesday.

Ramirez is waiting for the swelling to subside, and he says he wants to be completely better when he does come back. Since he's been out, versatile Alfredo Amezaga has been filling in at shortstop.

Gonzalez tinkered with the lineup on Wednesday against Mets lefty Johan Santana. Ramirez is 2-for-15 with two walks and six strikeouts lifetime against Santana.

Wes Helms started at third base and batted in the third spot vacated because of Ramirez's injury.

Emilio Bonifacio remained in the leadoff spot, but he played second base for the first time this year. Dan Uggla, who is 1-for-17 lifetime against Santana, was given the day off.

Gonzalez is mixed on whether to use Ramirez as a pinch-hitter, because of the concern that he could aggravate the hand on a slide.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.