While ace starting pitcher David Price sits on the mound with tons of cash in his pocket, is he really under more pressure than Hanley Ramirez in 2016?
Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reported that “after speaking with a group of reporters at JetBlue Park on Friday, Hanley Ramirez shouted across the clubhouse to David Price, “All the pressure is on you this year.” Smith also relayed Ramirez’s message that he “needs to hit more line drives and become more of a doubles-hitter again. Ramirez spent about 15-20 minutes taking ground balls with infield instructor Brian Butterfield here Friday.”
However, Smith also points out what manager John Farrell said about Ramirez’s work on defense: “The more that they get a chance to work one-on-one, the nuances of the position are being talked about in addition to fielding ground balls.”
Before addressing the worth of Han-Ram’s claim about Price, his focus in the media scrum and its variance to Farrell’s focus needs to be evaluated.
What was Ramirez saying that he needed to do to improve his game? That’s right. He was discussing his offense. He wants to hit more home runs and more doubles than useless strikeouts. What was Farrell discussing? Right again. Farrell was discussing defense.
Nobody will disagree with Han-Ram that his offensive numbers could have been a heck of a lot better than the .249 batting average he posted for the Red Sox in 2015. He slugged 19 home runs, most of them in the early months of the season, while driving in 53 RBIs, a far cry from the 106 RBIs he had in 2009.
Yet, for a man about to be put into another new defensive position, his third in two years, he doesn’t seem too worried about his play in the field.
It makes sense that light workouts at this point in the year are standard around the league; however, 15 to 20 minutes of groundballs, similar to the 20 flyballs Hanley had last spring training in left field, and he’s done for the day? Our children spend longer playing a game of 21 than this professional baseball player has been working on a position that is hit or thrown to on almost every play in the game.
Price may have signed a new seven-year contract worth $217 million, even though he seemed to choke in the playoffs a tad, but do we really need to go Jim Mora here? Playoffs? Is that where the pressure lies? Price has been nothing but dominant in the regular season his entire career, so we know Ramirez doesn’t mean that. Price even went 18-5 last season, between starts for the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays, and he is projected to have similar results for the Red Sox. So where is this so-called pressure?
It seems more likely coming from a man who is waiting out designated hitter David Ortiz‘s retirement so that he will never have to put on an infielder’s glove again. Ramirez cares about his bat much more than his defense, judging by his words. One could argue that his words are being misinterpreted and that he does care about his overall game, if it wasn’t for his entire 2015 performance and the work ethic he had in the spring training beforehand. Ramirez is feeling the pressure himself, and while he’s teasing his teammate about pressure, all in good-natured fun, it sounds more like a sign of insecurity in his own game.