Red Sox

Red Sox

BOSTON - Only a few days ago, when the Red Sox were playing the New York Mets, interim manager Torey Lovullo suggested that Hanley Ramirez would, in a matter of days, return to the lineup as the team's left fielder.

But Tuesday, that narrative took a dramatic turn.

Asked if he expected to see Ramirez play the outfield again in 2015, Lovullo answered: "I do not.''

Questioned about the change, Lovullo said there were a number of factors that went into the decision.

"I think we've just walked through a couple of scenarios,'' said Lovullo, "and I think that with how the young kids have been doing in the outfield, we want to give them the time there that they deserve. And I think the timing of Hanley's injury is pushing him back a little bit. It's just condensing that ability to go and play left field until he transitions to first base.

"Had it been day-to-day, there probably would have been a few moments in left field still. But I think we're looking a little bit forward of today, knowing that, maybe in a week he might come back and be ready to play first base. Maybe two weeks, he could come back, health-wise, and be ready to play first base.

"So, I think a lot of this is contingent on his health and the timing of it is built off his health.''

Ramirez continues to work out at first base in anticipation of moving there. He took ground balls and throws at first Tuesday afternoon, working with third base coach/infield instructor Brian Butterfield. and worked on his footwork.

To date, because of the shoulder soreness, he hasn't been able to make throws from the position.

"In his pre-workout time, he's getting himself ready, doing what he has to do to get ready to go,'' said Lovullo. "But obviously, he can't throw the ball yet. He's not able to execute the play completely and that's going to take a little bit of time. But he's doing his footwork, taking ground balls...doing anything but throwing. The final piece is to have him start throwing the ball. That's going to happen when his shoulder is ready to take that workload.''

Ramirez revealed Monday that he's been hampered right shoulder soreness for some time, and that, in conjunction with a sore hand, has been the reason why he has slumped so dramatically in the last three months.

His play in left field, of course, has been disastrous, with some defensive analytics revealing him to be the worst defender at any positition in Major League Baseball.

Additionally, the Sox have been pleased by the play of the trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo and want them to get a head start for 2016.

In the meantime, there won't be much of an opening for Ramirez until he adapts to first.

"I wish I could say what the transition time was going to be,'' said Lovullo. "But his health and how he is feeling is going to determine when that happens...I'm hopeful that he will. I feel like from what I've seen him do defensively, there's a chance he can play first base before the year's over. Now, is that a lock? His health will determine that.''