Can Hanley Ramirez Get Back to Shortstop for Los Angeles Dodgers?
The Miami Marlins had Hanley Ramirez playing third base for the past few seasons to make room for Jose Reyes to play shortstop. Now that he is with the Los Angeles Dodgers, they want him to play shortstop again so that Luis Cruz can play third base. If Ramirez was forced to play third base because of inability to play short, it would remove Cruz from the line-up and Dee Gordon would play short.
Let’s take a look at both scenarios. The Dodgers want Cruz playing third because the combo of Cruz and Ramirez is more productive overall than that of Ramirez and Gordon would be at this point. Cruz is a better fielder and swings a more productive bat. Ramirez is going to produce some runs no matter where he plays. So, since Ramirez once played shortstop, it shouldn’t be a problem to resume that position, right? Wrong.
Shortstop can be one of the most difficult positions on the diamond to play. The range one needs to play there is more than any other infield position and the throws from the hole wind up being extremely long. If your arm isn’t accustomed to that anymore, ala Ramirez, those throws can cause trouble. That is why Ramirez is working hard during Spring Training to get his body and his arm back accustomed to playing shortstop. He’s a pro and that shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong.
There is a problem there as well. Assuming he can get his arm back in shortstop condition and his feet can carry him deep into the hole to chase grounders and liners, Ramirez is working with a shortened spring because he is playing in the World Baseball Classic. That’s not all. Guess what position he is playing during the classic after rebuilding his arm strength all spring? Yep, third base. Oh, and guess why he is playing third in the classic? He has to play third to make room for guess who to play short; Jose Reyes. Wow, someone start singing ‘It’s a Small World’.
For the Dodgers it might not be a laughing matter. If Ramirez scrambles all spring to get his arm into shape and then it relaxes back to third base condition while he is in the WBC, the team will be forced to put him at third. Maybe if the fates conspire to keep Ramirez at third, Cruz can build up the arm strength to play shortstop. Either way, the best case scenario for the Dodgers left side of the diamond seems to be behind the eight-ball.
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