After reportedly hesitating to surrender his shortstop position when the Marlins inked Jose Reyes in December, the three-time All-Star has apparently agreed to make the switch to third base.
While it took some nudging from incoming manager Ozzie Guillen, Ramirez told The Associated Press that he has committed to the move.
"I have spoken with Guillen," Ramirez said. "What we want is to win with the Marlins. We will see what's going to happen with the position switch and everything else. If it's third base, OK. Wherever they put me to win, I will do so."
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has since reported that Ramirez still has a strong perference to remain at shortstop, but the willingness to move signals maturation for the 28-year-old. By sliding over to third base — and shying away from a trade demand -– Ramirez and Reyes fortify the Marlins infield defensively and create one of the most intimidating lineups in baseball. It's one the Marlins can certainly win with.
Imagine pitching against the top of an order that includes Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez. With Reyes and Ramirez penciled in there, the Marlins boast two of the last three National League batting champions.
"I know Hanley wants to win and I want to win, too," Reyes said at the winter meetings last month. "With him at third base and me at shortstop and the other pieces we have, we can be unbelievable."
One way or another, Ramirez will reap the rewards for the decision. Could it lead to a World Series title? Nobody knows. But for the first time in his six-year major league career, Ramirez will be playing for a legitimate contender.
Above all, the sacrifice also boosts Ramirez's reputation.
On the field, he has been tabbed as a diva, one that was benched by former manager Fredi Gonzalez for lack of hustle. In the clubhouse, he has been known as polarizing, sparking clashes with former teammate Dan Uggla and milking injuries.
But if the Marlins enjoy success in the coming years, Ramirez will be vindicated. Despite the additions of Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, the two-time Silver Slugger Award winner will inherit the majority of the credit for his selflessness.
The switch to third base did wonders for Alex Rodriguez. When the former shortstop shifted to third base in 2004, he was heralded for his altruistic approach. In the end, Rodriguez received the ultimate payoff in 2009 with a World Series title.
Ramirez could be next in line. With a loaded lineup and strong pitching, the Marlins have built a team that is destined for greatness for years to come.
"We are a new Marlins club," Ramirez told The Associated Press. "There's also a new Hanley. Good stuff is coming for next season."
It's certainly a sign of maturity.
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