MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) - Hanley Ramirez doesn’t expect any setbacks playing another new position with the Boston Red Sox this season.
Ramirez, a shortstop for most of his career, struggled to adjust after moving to left field last year, leading the team to relocate him to first base in 2016.
“I’ve always been an infielder, so it’s going to be easy,” Ramirez said Saturday at the Red Sox’s Baseball Winter Weekend event at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “I think I know more territory and I’m going to feel more comfortable at first.”
Ramirez played 91 games in left before a nagging shoulder injury shut him down in September. The injury was a result of a crash into the left field wall at Fenway Park while pursuing a fly ball in May.
In August, newly hired Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced he was moving Ramirez back to the infield.
The decision wasn’t met with resistance from Ramirez.
“I take everything as a positive,” he said. “I decided to play outfield to win a world championship and then I ran into the wall, so (it’s) something that I can’t control. After I hit that wall, everything was in a different way. Everything started going down.”
Dombrowski on Saturday reaffirmed the team’s faith in the move, adding that Ramirez’s glove is less of a concern than his positioning.
“I don’t think fielding ground balls are going to be the problem for him,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think throwing from there’s going to be the problem.
“You have to make sure that the footwork is proper because you don’t want him to get hurt when he’s playing first base.”
Ramirez already has the support of the heart and soul of the team’s infield, second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
“I think he’s going to take to it and like it,” Pedroia said Saturday. “When you’re scooping balls and picking teammates up, it’s a good feeling.”
Last season began with a bang for Ramirez offensively. He hit .293 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in the month of April.
His production at the plate tapered significantly after that. He finished the year with a .249 batting average, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs.
His numbers were better in 11 games as Boston’s designated hitter. Ramirez hit .295 (13-for-44) with five homers and 11 RBIs.
With designated hitter David Ortiz set to retire after this season, Ramirez didn’t hide his interest in assuming the role full time in 2017.
“Hell, yeah,” Ramirez said. “When you’ve got two things to do, play defense and offense (versus) just sitting in the dugout . it’s a little different.”
Until then, he will play wherever he is needed.
“Like I always say, whatever they say that I can help this team to win, I’ll do it,” Ramirez said. “I’m just here to win.”
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