Much was made of the report from ESPN Deportes that Hanley Ramirez
might be playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
But, when appearing on Tuesday night’s Hot Stove Show, Red Sox manager John Farrell said such a scenario was no done deal.
“We met with Hanley before we broke away for the final game of the season. Like every player there was a very specific physical plan put in place,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we met those goals, and Hanley met those goals, in terms of getting the low-back, the shoulder, some of the physical ailments we needed to address, getting to an optimum playing weight. We’ve had people in to visit with him. His work has been great this winter. It’s all in line with what our offseason goals have been.
“Before we even approach the winter ball, we want to make sure he addressed the physical things. And he’s doing that. I don’t know as we’re having this conversation whether or not he’s going to play winter ball yet. Our goal is to make sure he’s ready for us and plays as many games as possible at first base next year.”
Ramirez hadn’t played since Aug. 26, having had his season shut down due to a right shoulder issue. As Farrell pointed out, the first baseman also was managing lower back pain, which had somewhat limited his workouts at his new position throughout the season’s final month.
Speaking to ESPN Deportes, it appeared as though Ramirez was set on joining Licey of the Dominican Winter League.
“People don’t know this, but I will be playing in the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks,” Ramirez said in Spanish. “This is what I’m preparing for. I think it’s something that will help prepare me better to play first base.”
Ramirez added that he has been working out for two weeks and will arrive in Licey next week to begin training with the team.
It’s unclear how many at-bats he would receive or how often he’ll play first base, but Ramirez noted that the last time he played in the Dominican, before the 2013 season, he ended up winning the World Baseball Classic and having an excellent season with the Dodgers, hitting .345 with 20 homers and finishing eighth in the NL MVP voting.
“I will play first base,” Ramirez said, “but the majority of the time, I will be designated hitter with Licey.”
– Farrell also noted that the announcement that David Ortiz would be retiring after the 2016 season did catch him somewhat off guard.
“Personally, I was a little surprised because he would mention of it at times when you talked to him, whether it was on a long flight across the country or if you were having a one-on-one moment where a player might bring up, ‘I don’t know how long I’m going to do this going forward,’” Farrell said. “But if you look at the production throughout his whole career there really hasn’t been drop-off. Maybe in 2009 and 2010 there was a little bit of a downturn. But if you look at the last five years he has been incredibly consistent. From that standpoint alone you think, ‘This can continue to go on because he has been our most productive offensive player the last years.’ It has been a luxury to write David’s name in the lineup in that three-hole or four-hole each and every day.”