A Note on Hanley in Spring Training

Friday, February 24, 2012

Everyone has been saying nice things about Hanley Ramirez this week. He told the assembled media at Marlins Spring Training that he's totally happy to play third base, and Ozzie Guillen said of his ornery star: "He seems like he's a happy man. I think playing third base is going to be easy for him." And to top it off, he's even playing video games with Jose Reyes!

Everything seems downright peachy, but that shouldn't surprise savvy Marlins fans such as our readership (You guys are smart! And probably decent-looking!). This is at least the third spring in a row that Ramirez has promised a hassle-free season. Last year i wrote a piece for NBCMiami titled "Hanley Ramirez is Ready to Lead, and This Time He Means It." We all know how that turned out. In that very article I pointed out that (essentially) the same promise was made in 2010 (that time around, no less than Uncle Wes Helms said Hanley "looks like a guy that wants to [lead]").

Spring Training promises are like assholes: every ballplayer has one, some have warts. No one should be disappointed if anyone in the Marlins' clubhouse feuds with Ramirez over anything, be it a perceived lack of effort or double-dipping in the guac from the postgame spread.

I spend a fair amount of time defending Ramirez on Twitter (someone has to do it), but in this instance, I'm going to side with his critics and say I'll believe he's turned over a new leaf when I see it.

To be fair, the Marlins' appear to be taking a different approach with Ramirez this spring. Sure, they forced a move to third base, but Guillen has made a subtle managerial move. He has placed the burden of potential disappointment on himself, and has only asked Ramirez to play hard. Comparing Ramirez to LeBron James (in that both are blamed individually when their teams lose), Guillen said, "From now on, every time the Marlins lose it’s Oswaldo Guillen’s fault. It’s not the fault of any of the players."

He also nixed the idea of moving Hanley back to shortstop in the event of a Reyes injury. "I won't play with Hanley's mind," he said this week (emphasis added). "It's going to be hard for him to move to shortstop, and then when Reyes is ready, back to third base. Then we're abusing this kid and we don't respect him."

In other words, Guillen is mindful of not asking Ramirez to do too much. There are other guys on the team who can lead. Ramirez is only being asked to play, and play hard at that. Sometimes you must accept what you cannot change.


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