He also could have changed his first name to “Manny” and the program could have said “2007.” The folks at Citizens Bank Park probably would have just assumed they went through some crazy time warp — aside from the fact the Phillies are a shell of the team that Philadelphia fielded that season.
Ramirez, for one day at least, looked just like that other guy: the position, the swing, the hair, the pants, the swagger, the dancing with David Ortiz in the dugout and, above all, the power. The 31-year-old might not be Manny Ramirez 2.0, but he deserves an Academy Award for Monday’s performance.
“I’m glad I don’t have to pitch to them,” Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz said of his hitters after Boston dismantled Philadelphia 8-0 on Opening Day. “I’m glad they’re on our side and I don’t have to go out there. It feels like 2007 when I got called up, with Manny (Ramirez) and David (Ortiz) and everybody.”
The younger Ramirez was responsible for two of Boston’s five home runs Monday. He shot an absolute missile into the left field bleachers in the fifth inning to increase the Red Sox’s lead to 4-0. He then hooked a broken-bat grand slam inside the left field foul pole in the ninth inning to put the final nail in the Phillies’ coffin.
“That evened the score based on he and Pedey and maybe some of the comments that might have been going on between innings,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Ramirez’s grand slam, alluding to the pair of homers Dustin Pedroia also provided in the victory. “But yeah, it’s good to see guys get their pitch and do some damage with it.”
Damage. That’s a good way to describe it. Because while one must consider it was only Game 1 of 162, the Red Sox’s offense showed exactly what it’s capable of this season in the wake of general manager Ben Cherington and Co. revamping the roster. And Ramirez, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract over the offseason, figures to be at the forefront.
“He’s big, strong,” Pedroia said, reinforcing how physically imposing Ramirez is at the plate nowadays. “That’s what he’s going to feed on: when guys get on, breaking the game open.
“That was a big swing,” the second baseman added of Ramirez’s grand slam. “That guy was throwing hard, too, and (Ramirez) stayed on his slider and put a good swing on it.”
Both of Ramirez’s big swings Monday would make Manny proud. The former Red Sox outfielder — no relation to Hanley — spent seven-plus seasons wreaking havoc in the middle of Boston’s order. The hope within the organization is that the Ramirez who currently wears No. 13 and plays left field for the Red Sox will be just as productive and the 2015 squad will be equally as dangerous offensively.
“I think it has the potential, but that doesn’t guarantee us anything,” Farrell said of whether this year’s offense could mirror some of the Manny-led offenses of last decade. “I think our guys are well-aware of themselves that it’s a talented group but (that) we’ve still got to go out and execute, and we’ve got to get pitches to hit and not miss them. And that was the case (Monday).”
Hanley was Hanley. And it looked very familiar.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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