Hanley Ramirez misplayed another ball in left field Monday night. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez misplay opens floodgates as Indians beat Matt Barnes, Red Sox

John Tomase
August 17, 2015 - 6:23 pm

The Hanley Ramirez experience continues to disappoint. When the Red Sox signed Ramirez to play left field this offseason, it was considered a coup. Only four years and $88 million for a middle-of-the-order thumper who projected to get a $150 million deal in free agency prior to the 2014 season? What a steal. But as Monday night reminded us yet again, Hanley hasn't worked out at all. With rookie right-hander Matt Barnes trying to escape his first real jam in the fourth inning against the Indians, he induced Lonnie Chisenhall to hit a medium line drive to left. Off the bat, the ball looked like no worse than a running catch at the base of the left field wall, but Ramirez froze, then couldn't get back on the ball in time. It sailed over his head for a two-run double. The Indians added two more runs as part of a five-run frame. Instead of potentially being out of the inning down 2-1, Barnes saw the Tribe grab a 5-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish in an 8-2 victory that once again called into question what exactly the Red Sox plan to do with Ramirez not so much this year, because it's already over, but in 2016 and beyond. "Hanley is a work in progress," said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "He's made improvements in the outfield. That was a tough play tonight. As we continue moving forward with Hanley, I think that's going to be a play he'll feel comfortable making. We have to understand where he's come from and where he's at right now. He's missed a number of games. I think all things being said, it was a tough play." We've heard the "work in progress" refrain all season, and as much as fans might want Lovullo to tee off on another lackluster play, the interim manager probably isn't in a position to be ripping his players publicly, at least not this early in his tenure. The real question is what the Red Sox do next year. Is Ramirez going to remain in left field? Does he move to first base? Could the Red Sox somehow find a taker and move him, a la Edgar Renteria after the 2005 season? It's a question without an easy answer. Making matters worse, the Red Sox boast four above-average defensive outfielders in Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alejandro De Aza, and Rusney Castillo. "We do have three really talented gifted outfielders, but we wanted Hanley in that lineup tonight," Lovullo said. "He was a guy that was going to potentially change the game for us. That was the decision and unfortunately it didn't work out. "I think there's times where there's a little bit of rust on a guy, but Hanley's a pretty special player. He can change the game with one swing of the bat. Whether there was rust offensively or defensively, I know that he's going to continue to improve and move in the right direction." That remains to be seen. As for Monday night's game, Barnes looked strong early in the first start of his big league career. But thanks at least in part to Ramirez, the Indians ended up touching him for six hits and six runs in five innings, including a solo homer from Carlos Santana. Barnes showed some positive signs, striking out seven behind decent fastball command and an excellent changeup, but nine baserunners proved his undoing, particularly during the fateful fifth, when he struggled from the stretch. On the other side, Indians starter Danny Salazar had his way with the Red Sox, limiting them to four hits and a run (a solo homer by Travis Shaw) in four innings, striking out seven.