David Ortiz thinks everyone should lay off Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez has been criticized time and again this season for his shoddy defense in left field. He’s now embracing a potential transition to first base with open arms, and Ortiz, who worked with Ramirez during pregame drills earlier this week, isn’t surprised by the veteran’s team-first mentality.
“Hanley has a good attitude about everything,” Ortiz told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford earlier this week. “It sucks that people are criticizing him, a guy who is trying to learn a new position.
“People always want to talk about being selfish, but I don’t think people know what they’re talking about when they talk about that because the guy gave up on his position that he’s good at. When he plays another position, that means he’s not selfish. I guess he’s going to give it a try somewhere else.”
Ramirez, an infielder by trade, statistically has been the worst outfielder in Major League Baseball in his first campaign in left field. The Red Sox also have three other outfielders — Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. — vying for significant roles next season. It makes sense for Boston to try Ramirez at first base down the stretch, especially with uncertainty looming over the position for 2016.
But can Ramirez successfully shift to first base? It’s a fair question given how disastrous the left field experiment has gone and how much new information he’ll need to absorb. But Ortiz is among those expecting positive results. The 39-year-old even can offer tips to ease the learning curve.
“It’s footwork,” Ortiz told Bradford. “He’s been an infielder his whole career so the most important thing about first base is how your footwork is going to be around the bag.
“When you go to the fundamentals, you just need to know where you’re going to be in certain situations. I don’t think he will have the issues he had in the outfield playing first base.”
Ortiz pointed to the difficulty of playing the outfield, particularly at Fenway Park, in his defense of Ramirez. First base has its own set of challenges but could be easier for Ramirez to grasp.
Either way, Ortiz appreciates his teammate’s effort, even if some critics don’t.
Thumbnail photo via Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images
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