The Florida Marlins' all-star shortstop joined their all-star pitcher on the disabled list Monday.
Hanley Ramirez was placed on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career because of a strained back, with the move retroactive to May 30. Ace Josh Johnson has been on the disabled list since May 21 with right shoulder inflammation.
"It's very frustrating, because those are the guys we built the team around," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "There's a hole in the rotation and in the lineup."
Their absence has been felt. The Marlins went into Monday night's game against Milwaukee with a season-worst four-game losing streak that dropped them to five games above .500.
Left-hander Brad Hand was selected from AA Jacksonville and will make his major league debut taking Johnson's turn in the rotation Tuesday night against Atlanta.
It's unknown how long Ramirez or Johnson will remain sidelined. Ramirez hasn't played since May 29, and while he said he felt better Monday, he's not expected to resume any baseball activities for at least two or three days.
"I don't want to rush myself," Ramirez said. "But it's not fun watching the game from the bench."
Johnson is throwing long toss daily, and there's no timetable for anything more difficult. He will likely make a couple of rehabilitation starts before rejoining the rotation.
"We just want those two guys 100 per cent healthy," Rodriguez said. "When that's going to happen, nobody knows.
"If we keep playing at least .500 for the next month, whenever they get back we should be in good shape."
Ramirez has been in a season-long slump and is hitting just .210 with four home runs. But the absence of the 2009 NL batting champion has caused Florida's young hitters to press, Rodriguez said.
The Marlins have also had trouble finding a replacement for Johnson. With little depth in starting pitching in the minors, Hand is expected to make at least two starts after going 7-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 11 games for Jacksonville.
The 21-year-old was surprised to learn of his promotion Monday.
"After our game my manager called me in," Hand said. "We had been playing Birmingham. He went through the lineup on how to get them out, and he started saying, 'Dan Uggla, Chipper Jones ... '
"He said, 'You're going to the big leagues, kid."'