Boston Red Sox infielder Hanley Ramirez starts throwing to bases


Hanley Ramirez is one step closer to rejoining the Boston Red Sox. The former outfielder was on the field prior to Monday night’s game in Baltimore throwing to bases, as he prepares to transition to his new home at first base.

Ramirez hasn’t played since August 26 due to a right shoulder injury. The Red Sox placed him on the disabled list earlier this month, which always seemed like an odd decision considering September roster expansion made the move unnecessary in order to add a replacement. The team insisted that the DL stint was merely a way to get everyone to stop asking when Ramirez would be back, easing the pressure on the 31-year old to allow him to work his way back at his own pace.

With only about three weeks left to go in the season it leaves us to wonder if he will make it back in time. According to Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, there’s still no timetable for Ramirez’s return.

"“No, there’s no one given day,” Lovullo told’s Ian Browne. “It’s a day-to-day thing with him with the feedback we’re getting from him, the medical team. We don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s not ready for a couple of different reasons. One of them is his health and the other one is his comfort level. Piece by piece, it’s getting better.”"

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It’s not as if the Red Sox offense has missed his presence much. Boston is third in the league in runs scored and OPS since the break, with Ramirez absent for a significant portion of that stretch. The outfield has been stellar since Ramirez was booted out of left field and Travis Shaw has been more than holding his own at first base.

There has been no rush to get Ramirez back on the field, so he’s had the benefit of being able to take his time to ensure that he is fully healed. In the meantime he has also been getting some practice at first base, being schooled on the basics that are essential to learn before the Red Sox can try him at the position in an actual game.

"“He feels good,” said Lovullo. “The footwork is coming along. It’s an overall feel from all of us to make sure that it’s the right time and the right situation to keep pushing him forward. Today he’ll take more ground balls so he’ll be able to throw a little bit more, and he’s been taking BP and everything is looking very good.”"

While it’s an encouraging update from the manager, we still need to see Ramirez in action to be convinced that he can handle first base. Following the disastrous experiment that moving him to left field turned out to be, the Red Sox need to be sure that a transition to first base won’t blow up in their faces as well.

Boston can’t afford to enter 2016 without knowing for certain if Ramirez is their first baseman or not. They need to find out now if he’s capable of it, because otherwise they need to explore options to trade him in the offseason. A healthy Ramirez can still be an offensive force, but his value is negated if he has nowhere to play in the field without being a liability.

All signs seem to indicate that Ramirez is nearing a return, but the lack of a target date remains a concern. His shoulder is feeling better and he’s getting some work in at first base, but time is running out.

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