Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez on shoulder: 'There's some pain in there'

John Tomase
May 19, 2015 - 9:45 pm

In a perfect world, Hanley Ramirez would spend some time on the disabled list to rest his surgically repaired left shoulder. But with the Red Sox getting off to a decidedly imperfect start, Ramirez is needed. He knows it and his teammates know it. And so he plays. All it takes is one look at his spray chart to see that Ramirez isn't the same hitter he was in April, when he smacked a franchise-record 10 homers and appeared poised to battle Seattle's Nelson Cruz for the league lead all season. But he is earning the respect of his teammates by playing through a shoulder injury instead of taking days off to heal. "No, no, no. There's no wasting time on the bench," Ramirez said after going 3-for-5 in a 4-3 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. "That's not me. I can walk and find a way to be successful, even if there's some pain in there." Ramirez smacked a pair of doubles in the victory, just his second and third extra-base hits of the month. After pulling 14 balls to left in April, including eight home runs, Ramirez has pulled only three balls therein May. All three of his hits on Tuesday night went to right or center. His last home run came on April 29. Hitting coach Chili Davis likes what he has seen from Ramirez in recent days, with an emphasis on staying up the middle and going to right if that's where the ball is pitched. "That's Hanley," Davis said. "That's the guy that won a batting title, as far as I'm concerned. You don't win a batting title as a right-handed hitter if you don't do that." Ramirez may not have arrived with a reputation of being a team player, but he's making believers of his teammates. After crashing into the fence in foul territory in left field and jamming his shoulder against the Rays on May 4, Ramirez missed only three games. He has already twice undergone surgery on the shoulder, but rather than miss time with a DL stint, he returned to the lineup on May 9 and has been in there every day since. "It says a lot," said teammate Mike Napoli. "This game's tough. People are going to run into times when there are bumps and bruises along the way. We need him out there. Even if he's at 70 percent, we'll take it. We need people to grind through some stuff, and that's what he's doing." Ramirez knows what he means to the Red Sox. "It's a way different lineup when I'm in it," he said. "Everyone keeps telling me that, and I know it myself, so I'm just trying to be in there every day." He insists the shoulder isn't affecting his approach, but it's hard to miss his lack of pull power. Davis said going to right isn't a choice, but a result of Ramirez slowing his swing. "I don't subscribe to the idea of going up to the plate to go to right field, but when you're trying to stay on the ball and let the ball travel, and not trying to get too much result out of your swing, not trying to maximize result, then you're able to use the whole field," Davis said. "He might say he's trying to go to right field, but his swings are more controlled. He's on the ball. He's been getting pitches and he's been on them, and he fouls them off. Why? Because he's trying to get too much out of his swing. In Seattle, he calmed it down, bang, squared the ball up, center field, all over. And that's Hanley." Ramirez would like to let his body heal, but there's no time for that. He hasn't even dialed back on his weight lifting, working out his arms, chest, back, to the mild consternation of the organization. "They were trying to get me to [stop], but I said no," he said with a laugh. "I don't like my body to feel weak. When I feel weak, I try to do too much to try to find a way to get some power in my swing."