BOSTON -- All the controversy surrounding Pablo Sandoval has taken the focus off Hanley Ramirez, which means some may not have noticed he's gone from making Manny Ramirez look like a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder to being a more-than-competent defensive first baseman.
“We have a player, I think, completely different than a year ago,” manager John Farrell said about Ramirez.
When spring training rolled around, it wasn’t clear that Ramirez would take to his new position -- especially since he didn’t have a first baseman’s mitt. However, he's taken to the position well, with his big stretch on Saturday’s eighth-inning double play serving as evidence.
“He playing it, I think, with ease,” Farrell said. “He’s put in a lot of work to get familiar with the different position and the footwork around the bag. He’s engaged; he’s having fun playing the game. I think being back in the infield has big a big boost to that.”
Ramirez has also been more aggressive on the base paths, stretching singles into doubles and logging a stolen base in his second game of the year, something that took 14 games last year.
Farrell took note of Ramirez reaching on the dropped third strike in Thursday night’s win, which gave Travis Shaw a chance to drive in Ramirez and David Ortiz.
“He’s hustling,” Farrell said. “What he’s been doing on the base paths has been impressive.”
His power hasn’t been the same as it was through the first 10 games of 2015, hitting three less home runs and posting a .463 slugging percentage to 2015’s 512. However, he’s hit two more doubles than this point last year (he had zero at this point in 2015) and has a .293/.318/.463 line versus .233/.306/512.
So the Red Sox may have lost the power-hungry Hanley, but the bumbling left fielder went with it. Instead they seem to have a player similar to what they expected when he first signed.
“He’s doing one heck of a job,” Farrell said.