Well, you can’t say that he’s not excited for 2015. Hanley Ramirez expressed his desire to come to Fort Myers and report for the Boston Red Sox’ spring training two weeks before the mandatory deadline.
Red Sox insider Sean McAdam reported earlier in January that Ramirez has been working out in the Dominican Republic for weeks now. Ramirez said he has been “working on balls [hit] over my head and [moving] side-to-side … and hitting the cutoff man. I think if I put in all the work in that I need to put to get better, it’s not going to be that hard” (CSNNE.com). Ramirez also said that he does not see the change from shortstop to left field being that difficult: “Just to have that trophy at the end of the year in our hands. That’s the bigger one. But adjusting to the new position, I’ve just got to work and I think everything’s going to be fine. Just work, and try to get better every day” (McAdam, CSNNE.com).
Reporting early for practicing defensive skills can only benefit the all-star. The drills would be light running and throwing, to capture the game situations and decision-making skills, all while in the nice, but not overpowering, heat to relax the muscles. After healing from an injury, your body needs time to adjust to the workload that you will endure. The long regular season, with all the twisting and sudden bursts of speed and adrenaline to the upper and lower body, will take its toll on anyone, let alone someone coming back from a list of injuries in the past two seasons. Last season, Ramirez missed 32 games for his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for injuries to his oblique, elbow, shoulder, hand, thumb, calf, hamstring, ribs, and his back.
Sounds like the man should be bubble-wrapped when he flies to Florida, but the fact that the 31-year-old wants to start early is a good sign for Red Sox fans. If he wanted to, Ramirez could just hang back with his family, until the deadline for position players to report arrives. However, in December, Ramirez took to Twitter to capture his workouts in the cage:
He already has lots of money from lucrative contracts, so why the rush? Veterans have the luxury of having previous experience speak for them, during spring training, and it’s not like Ramirez would be sent to the minors or even cut, considering the $88 million that Boston will be paying him. Yet, Ramirez says that he wants to win a championship, and that requires the players being at their best throughout the season. In a tough American League East division, there is no guarantee of any playoff spot, let alone a World Series.
Ramirez may also want to prove himself, to the fans, his new team, as well as himself. On Twitter, Ramirez recently expressed the following to Red Sox Nation:
There is no question that, on paper, Ramirez is one of the best offensive players in the game, batting .300 for his career, .283 with 71 RBIs last season. The issues are his defensive skills and the number of games his body can play. Between 2010 and 2014, Ramirez has played in 762 of a possible 810 games, which means he missed at least 144 plate appearances in 48 games. That may not sound like much over five seasons, except that those only count when he didn’t play. How many at-bats were not at the proper quality, because Ramirez refused to sit or tried playing through injury pain? According to MLB.com’s statistics, Ramirez was ranked the fourth-best starting shortstop in the majors, in terms of batting average, but was only 21st in fielding percentage, lower than a retiring Derek Jeter and Ian Desmond, who made 24 errors, last season.
If Hanley Ramirez is excited about starting spring training early, it can only be a good thing for Red Sox fans. His hunger to prove that he is worth the big contract and worthy of playing in Fenway Park’s left field, the Bermuda Triangle of Boston, will serve him well. After the frustration of injuries and the media scrutiny over them, Ramirez gets to come back to the team that drafted him and saw the potential that was then the unproven ability he later showed. Who doesn’t like coming ‘home’? It seems to always be what the proverbial doctor ordered. Maybe it will be for Ramirez, too.