Red Sox Ramirez Is A New Man Who Fights The Pain
Boston Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez is still in pain, yet he played last night and helped them win. Who is this man and where did he come from?
The Red Sox had lost four out of the last five games, coming into the three-game series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Fenway Park. Ramirez was suffering from back pain after a collision at first base the night before, while on defense, against New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
Deesha Thosar of MLB.com reported that, in the eighth inning, “Ramirez was down for a few minutes, grabbing his lower back in pain as Red Sox manager John Farrell and a trainer aided him. After slowly pacing back and forth, Ramirez opted to stay in the game, but he was replaced for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the frame.”
Friday night rolled around and Ramirez, often ridiculed over the last few seasons for being fragile or prone to injury, was in the lineup. In less than 24 hours, Han-Ram showed Boston why they spent so much money on him, going 2-for-4 with six RBIs, including two three-run homers in the bottom of the first two innings. The Red Sox went on to win 9-4.
What was more incredible was Hanley’s words after the game. MLB.com‘s Ian Browne recorded Ramirez saying, “I don’t think I have to be 100 percent to play at this point in the season to go out there […] We know where we are. We’re right there. It’s go time.”
While Red Sox Nation may be doing the Monster Mash, watching Ramirez and designated hitter David Ortiz bash balls over and against the Green Monster in left field last night, the first half of those Mash brothers didn’t fill the fans with a great deal of confidence last season, especially when he was hurt. And, that was often.
BoSox Injection released an article four months ago, arguing that Ramirez needed to learn from fellow 2015 free agent signing Pablo Sandoval, after he was replaced by much-less-paid Travis Shaw. Regarding Ramirez, his laundry list of injuries was what let the Los Angeles Dodgers decide not to fight Boston over re-signing him. It didn’t change much once Hanley came to Massachusetts. He “struggled with injuries and poor play in 2015, hitting just .249 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs, most of them coming at the beginning of the season. At times, the former shortstop looked laughable in left field, as the experiment to make him an outfielder proved futile. However, Ramirez vowed that the next move to put him at first base would not be a decision that the team would regret.”
This season, Han-Ram has hit .273 with 16 homers and 70 RBIs in 105 games so far. He only played 105 games in total for the Red Sox last year, because of the injuries that he sustained. The home runs may be down, but everything else about Ramirez’s game is looking up. Including his attitude.
A quick look back into Ramirez’s past sheds light on the change. At least once in each of the last three seasons, Ramirez has been put on the 15-day disabled list and not reactivated till much later. On top of that, Ramirez often would need days off to help him heal without being placed on the DL. Not that Han-Ram hasn’t sustained injuries this season and not that he hasn’t required some days off to heal, as before, but he’s also not been placed on the DL at all this season.
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It’s almost astounding to hear Ramirez say that he doesn’t need to be 100% to play, when it contradicts what he’s expressed through body language for much of the last few years. However, maybe we all should have seen it coming earlier this year. In a spring training game, when almost all of the starters were substituted out of the game to give them a rest, Hanley requested to stay in the game to get more work at first base. This 180-degree turn was surprising, given that the year before found Hanley only taking 20 flyballs a day to train to become Boston’s left fielder.
Instead of becoming a washed-up baseball player who was just now going to milk out his final years for big money, Ramirez is leading by example both offensively and defensively. Sure, his 7.86 range factor could be a bit better, but his .995 fielding percentage has been evident multiple times this year, bailing out ineffective starting pitching and infielders making terrible throws to him at times. For the first time in a long while, Han-Ram’s grit with the glove is as inspiring as his bashing bat.
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The old Hanley would have asked to sit out at least one game to recover from his collision on Thursday; the new Ramirez didn’t even want to leave the game in the first place. Fortunately for Red Sox fans, the gritty Han-Ram played through injury and, instead of whimpering on the bench, inflicted his own batch of pain on two fastballs and sent them over the fence to help the team keep pace in the postseason race.