Boston Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez will play in Dominican Winter League
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez is heading to the Dominican Republic to participate in Winter League.
Hanley Ramirez is so eager to play baseball that he’s not waiting around for spring training. The Boston Red Sox first baseman is heading home to play for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League.
Ramirez hinted as recently as David Ortiz‘s Celebrity Golf Classic earlier this month that he wanted to play Winter Ball to help him prepare for the World Baseball Classic. Now we know he’s already on his way.
A photo tweeted by Ramirez showing the veteran infielder packing his bags reveals his intention to join the Tigers for Winter Ball beginning on Monday, December 19. It’s unclear how many games he will play in the Dominican or how much time he’ll see in the field, but the photo clearly shows that he’s packing his first base mitt.
The last time that Ramirez played Winter Ball was 2013, which was also when he last participated in the WBC. He wanted to play last year, but the Red Sox declined to let him go because he was coming off of shoulder surgery. You can understand the team’s trepidation, considering the last time Ramirez played in the WBC he suffered a thumb injury that cost him the first month of the following season.
Despite the potential for injury, Ramirez feels that the benefits outweigh the risks.
"“You get your swings in,” Ramirez told reporters at Ortiz’s charity event. “You get used to the game quicker than in spring training. That’s the difference because now your mind is ready to start.”"
Hurting his thumb in the WBC set him back to start the 2013 season, but Ramirez still went on to hit .345 with a 1.040 OPS for the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing 8th in NL MVP voting despite playing in only 86 games. Perhaps there’s something to his theory that playing baseball in the winter months helps him prepare for the upcoming season better than spring training alone.
The Red Sox may still have some concerns about their 32-year old slugger making it through the winter with his health intact, but they certainly won’t mind if it leads to Ramirez tearing the cover off the ball in April.