Red Sox Dave Dombrowski seeks a more ‘athletic’ Hanley Ramirez


Ouch. If you’ve been following Hanley Ramirez’s tenure in Boston this year you’ll probably not be at all surprised to hear athleticism has been somewhat lacking. For good reason. In early May, Hanley made a now infamous attempt at a Jackie Bradley Jr catch in foul territory in left field. The ball was missed; the wall was not. The injury to his left shoulder would spell a serious dive in batting average and fan approval rating that would dog him until his right shoulder became the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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The jury is out on whether Hanley actually cares about fan approval rating, or lack thereof. His hitting record though should be of grave concern. Hitting well below career norms, despite managing to go deep 10 times in 82 opportunities in April, his lack of serious pop has many wondering why even bother. You see, Hanley is a baseball defence equivalent of a trap door in a canoe. He leaks singles, doubles, triples. He’s slow, lethargic and generally bad. That he has the lowest WAR rating in the league is about as surprising as seeing his helmet fly off unceremoniously with each hulking swing of the bat.

Thus it won’t shock many to hear that new Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski expressed his wishes to see a more athletic Hanley going forward. Ian Browne of recorded Dombrowski’s thoughts:

"“He’ll be in a position where he’s the athletic Hanley, more so. He’s a very big guy. We’re not concerned necessarily with how many home runs he hits because he’ll hit some naturally. It’s more about driving in runs and hitting doubles and hitting the gaps. That’s how he’s always been.”"

A transition to first base seems to be quite minor compared to the transition Dombrowski is hoping will happen with Ramirez. A change in attitude that hopes to improve his worth to the team going forward by sacrificing power for flexibility. Dombrowski using the example of the Majors’ leading hitter Miguel Cabrera as a more well-rounded and valuable offensive piece.

"“In the one sense, Miguel’s got unbelievable power, but he’s just a great hitter. That’s what we’re looking more for Hanley to be. Don’t try to take on a different thought process, and don’t think just because you’re going to be at first base, you have to do more.”"

Whatever this means going forward, the message should be well taken. Hanley elected to spend the remainder of the season at home in Miami, where the washout weather and the washout season seem so far away. Resting on laurels, there will not be. Dave Dombrowski means business, results and not reputation are his bottom line. A different approach must be taken if Hanley is to be a part of his 2016 Red Sox and what remains of his albatross contract (some $66 million over three years) is no safety net for inclusion.

"“As long as he comes back and can be the Hanley that we know, sure. He’s done it in the past. We’ve got to get him back there. I think he’s committed to doing that. We’ve got to work with him.  I think it’s a difference of him being with the organization for a year where the training and conditioning people know him and we can come up with some different thought processes in how to make that work, so again, I think we can accomplish that.”"

Whether or not Dombrowski’s faith will be rewarded remains to be seen, but suffice it to say Hanley has his work cut out for him in the off season.

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