USA Today Sports

Can Hanley Ramirez actually return to first base? Dave Dombrowski thinks so

Rob Bradford
November 13, 2017 - 10:12 pm

ORLANDO -- A big piece of the equation when trying to figure out what kind of player the Red Sox can secure for their new power bat is Hanley Ramirez.

If someone such as Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana is scooped up via free agency, they can play first base while Ramirez slides into the designated hitter role. But if the likes of J.D. Martinez, an outfielder and DH, is acquired then it would necessitate Hanley moving back to first.

On the surface, the strategy of putting Ramirez back in the field would seem dicey considering his limited time there in 2017, along with any uncertainty that might emanate from offseason shoulder surgery. But Dombrowski is adamant this will be a legitimate option.

"We can count on him to play first base for us like he did in 2016," Red Sox Dave Dombrowski said of Ramirez while speaking at Monday's GM meetings.

That would be 133 games at the position. Last year? He played in the field 18 times.

"The doctor feels he will be able to do that," the president of baseball operations added. "As a matter of fact, when Alex [Cora] was  here yesterday,  we had a conversation about that topic. Alex feels that he’ll  be able to play first base for us. When I say that, we also have to protect ourselves. We don’t have, per se, that first baseman. Could it be [Blake] Swihart that also gives us some protection? Perhaps. You have the potential for that. But right now, we’re in a position where we  still ... I don’t think [Michael] Chavis is quite ready to do that, even though we like him a bunch and he’s played."

Both Swihart (Dominican Republic) and Chavis (Arizona Fall League) have been exposed to first base this offseason. Swihart is out of options, so he would likely get first crack at the spot, although Chavis' power numbers in the minors makes the Sox want to find him a spot him.

"The little bit he did play, he looked fine over there," said Dombrowski of Chavis at first base. "He worked hard. He’s been in the infield before at shortstop-slash-third base. I do think that, I did not personally see him, but the people who saw him said that they thought he could play over there. I think for us, one of the things we’re going to have to look at with him, it is a good bat and he’s a good prospect, is where does he play?  Where can you let him settle in? He can play some third base. We know that already. We don’t need him  in the outfield at this point. He’s not going  to play shortstop. At second base, we’ve got some guys. Settling in there might be a move we make with him, but we haven’t come to that decision."

Comments ()