There evidently was a method to Hanley Ramirez’s madness.
The Boston Red Sox released Ramirez in May, ending his second stint with the organization after three-plus seasons. He remained off the grid for the remainder of the year, resurfacing occasionally on social media but ultimately not signing elsewhere as a free agent.
So why did Ramirez, who recently inked a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians, decide to sit out the remaining five months of the 2018 campaign? The 35-year-old slugger explained Thursday at Indians spring training.
“After that happened, there were teams calling me to come back,” Ramirez said, per The Athletic. “I told my agent I just wanted to stay home and get my body healthy and come back next year. And he told me, ‘Next year, it’s going to be a little bit harder to get back. It might be a minor league deal.’
“You know what I told him? I trust in myself. I know I can hit. It doesn’t matter.”
Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, had a solid 2016 season, hitting .286 with 30 home runs, 111 RBIs and an .866 OPS. But he struggled for much of 2017 and regressed even more in 2018, leading to his release despite the Red Sox owing him most of his $22.75 million salary.
Now, Ramirez must prove himself with a new organization — his fourth in 15 seasons, as he also played for the Florida/Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers before returning to Boston in November 2014. If he cracks Cleveland’s Opening Day roster, it’ll likely be exclusively as a designated hitter option.
“I’m a veteran guy and I know what I need to do to get ready for the season,” Ramirez told The Athletic. “The difference is, I have to start earlier this year, to start raking as soon as I can.”
Ramirez has no excuses. He should be rested and healthy after a lengthy layoff, and it’s up to him to show he still has a little something left in the tank.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images