Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez wore a David Ortiz shirt to Spring Training
For the first time since 2002, David Ortiz won’t be on the field for the Boston Red Sox during Spring Training after he retired last season.
Ortiz won’t be at camp in person this year, but Hanley Ramirez is making sure that he isn’t forgotten. The 32-year-old slugger strolled into camp rocking a t-shirt memorializing his long-time friend and mentor.
Not that anyone could ever forget the impact Big Papi had on and off the field. The Red Sox will officially retire his number 34 on June 23rd, when they host the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway. Replacing Ortiz’s historic production, after he had the greatest age-40 season in baseball history will be no small task. His 38 home runs, 127 RBI, .620 slugging percentage, and 163 wRC+ won’t be matched out of any individual player. Rather, it will be done by committee.
Leading the charge will be Hanley Ramirez. Expected to spend much of the season DH’ing after the Red Sox signed Mitch Moreland, Hanley is the apparent successor to Ortiz in the lineup. After a disappointing team debut in 2015, Hanley silenced his critics with 30 home runs, 111 RBI, and a WRC+ of 127, good for third on the roster last season. If there is a silver lining to Ortiz’s retirement, it’s that the team will be able to roll more players through the DH spot now that it stands vacant.
It’s safe to assume that Hanley will get the most at-bats in the position, but he won’t be playing there exclusively. On days when a lefty is starting against the Red Sox, Hanley will move back to first base, pushing Mitch Moreland out of the platoon. Chris Young is a potential candidate to take the DH spot, given his splits against lefties. We could even see Dustin Pedroia spend some time off the field too. He played 150+ games for the first time since 2013 last season and at 32, he’s a prime candidate to be protected from wear and tear.
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There’s no doubt that Ortiz will be missed in 2017, but he’ll still spend time around the club in a front office role that has yet to be determined.