Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez out of the lineup against Cincinnati Reds

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Hanley Ramirez
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Hanley Ramirez /

The Boston Red Sox will lose the benefit of the designated hitter in a National League ballpark, sending Hanley Ramirez to the bench.

The Boston Red Sox visit the Cincinnati Reds to wrap up their last road trip of the regular season. A return to a National League ballpark means the designated hitter will be removed from the lineup, which is why Hanley Ramirez will start Friday night’s game on the bench.

It remains to be seen if Ramirez will be out of the starting lineup for the entire three-game series. Boston is slated to face a right-handed pitcher in all three games, leaving no obvious spot to sit Mitch Moreland to open a spot for Ramirez at first base.

The Red Sox could turn to Ramirez as a bat off the bench, although don’t expect him to pinch-hit for Moreland if the Reds call for a lefty reliever. Ramirez has been awful against southpaws this season, hitting .192 against them. The better option would be to use Sam Travis, who is hitting .395 in 38 at-bats against left-handed pitching. If Travis’ turn in the batting order were to come up again later when a right-hander is on the mound then switching to Ramirez could be an option.

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It’s more likely that Ramirez finds his way into the game pinch-hitting for a pitcher. The expanded rosters this month leave the Red Sox with no shortage of options to turn to on the bench but it would be surprising if Ramirez isn’t given some of those opportunities in this series.

Ramirez missed the better part of six games with biceps soreness, making only a cameo appearance as a pinch-hitter during that span. He returned on Thursday in Baltimore to deliver three hits, including a pair of doubles, to drive in three runs in a 9-0 victory over the Orioles.

It’s been a disappointing season for Ramirez, who is hitting .242/.322/.428 while serving primarily as a DH. However, we’ve seen him catch fire quickly in the past and a three-hit performance against the O’s could be what he needed to bust out of his slump. If the Red Sox sit him on the bench for three straight games they may as well store his bat in a freezer. He’ll be back to being ice cold at the plate by the time the team returns to Fenway next week.

Here’s tonight’s starting lineup for the Red Sox.

Outside of the absence of a DH, no real surprises here. Rafael Devers returns to the lineup after getting a breather on Wednesday. The rookie needed a few days to clear his head after committing an error in five consecutive games at third base.

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Boston enters the night with a three game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. They have already clinched a postseason spot and their magic number to win the division is down to eight. A series against a last place Reds team should shrink that number over the weekend.