Hanley Ramirez: ‘I Was Waiting For A Long Time’ For Fenway Park Return

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BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez twice returned to Fenway Park as a visitor while with the Miami Marlins. Neither instance held a candle to Monday’s homecoming.

Ramirez, who began his career with the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the Marlins and later to the Los Angeles Dodgers, started in left field and batted cleanup Monday as Boston kicked off its 2015 home schedule with a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals. The 31-year-old received a nice ovation from the Fenway Faithful before the game, and he made it clear after the game that the admiration was mutual.

“Just playing in front of those fans and that crowd, it’s unbelievable, the feeling,” Ramirez said. “They always add a lot of energy to the games, and I was waiting for a long time for this moment right here.”

Ramirez, of course, was traded to the Marlins before the 2006 season in the deal that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. The trade worked out for the Red Sox, who benefited from strong performances by Beckett and Lowell en route to a 2007 World Series title, and for Ramirez, who earned three All-Star selections in the National League.

But the sides continued to hold each other in high regard. So when Ramirez hit the open market this past offseason, he immediately reached out to the Red Sox with a willingness to transition to the outfield.

“Yeah, that’s why we put a lot of work in every day, so when this time comes, you don’t get caught up in the moment,” Ramirez said of playing left field at Fenway Park for the first time. “It was a good spring.”

Ramirez has said several times since re-signing with Boston that a World Series ring is the only thing on his mind in his second stint with the organization. The Red Sox, who finished last season with a 71-91 record, have a long way to go before they taste this year’s Fall Classic, but Ramirez is pleased with his team’s progress so far.

“We’re playing pretty good baseball. It’s not just one guy,” Ramirez said of the Red Sox, who improved to 5-2 with Monday’s win. “Every day it’s somebody different.”

Ramirez’s first game at Fenway since 2012 — and his first at the ballpark in a Red Sox uniform since 2005 — went about as well as he could have hoped, with the exception of a foul ball he took off the foot. But the bruise Ramirez suffered on that play eventually will go away.

The memory of Monday’s return, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Thumbnail photo via Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Images

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