Hanley Ramirez

Red Sox trying to fix all-or-nothing approach of slumping left fielder Hanley Ramirez

John Tomase
August 07, 2015 - 12:51 pm

On Thursday in New York, Red Sox manager John Farrell intimated that a day off could be coming for slumping left fielder Hanley Ramirez. That day is not Friday, because Ramirez is in the starting lineup against Tigers lefty Daniel Norris in Detroit. But frankly, what ails Ramirez will probably require more than a down day to fix. In 19 games since the All-Star break, Ramirez is hitting just .203 with two doubles, no homers, and a .451 OPS. If he's not the worst hitter in the American League at the moment, he's close. The problem is simple, from the Red Sox point of view -- Ramirez has abandoned the line-drive approach that made him a batting champ early in his career in favor of an all-or-nothing swing that has been filling up the "nothing" side of the ledger. "I think there have been times his swing has gotten big," Farrell said on Thursday. "This is something a number of us have spoken to Hanley about, trying to get some sense of the approach at the plate. He'€™s typically been such a good line drive hitter and a high number of doubles, almost 2-to-1 doubles to home runs. And yet right now that'€™s reversed. "Whether that'€™s a mindset and approach to think about more power rather than being a contact hitter of hard line drive ability, we'€™re still trying to work at the root of that, and if that mindset has created some habits where there'€™s an attempt to loft the ball more and not be the pure hitter he'€™s been known for, that'€™s what we'€™re repeatedly working with him and trying to get back to." As Farrell alluded, the greatest indictment of Ramirez's season is the fact that he has only eight doubles, 26 fewer than his average of 34, and a full 40 below his career high, which he set in 2007. Ramirez's second-half slump has taken its toll on his overall numbers, with his on-base percentage slipping to .300, 68 points below his lifetime average. In retrospect, it appears that hitting 10 home runs in April did Ramirez no favors, creating a dynamic of shooting for the moon on each swing. Both Farrell and hitting coach Chili Davis have implored Ramirez to shorten his swing and regain the line-drive stroke that made him an All-Star. According to WEEI play-by-play man Joe Castiglione, who tracks such things, Ramirez has only hit the left field wall twice all season, and that's horrific. Fixing it won't be easy. "Hitters so many times are going to work on feel, they'€™re not going to necessarily take a look at the numbers and say well, the number of doubles versus number of home runs being hit are going to tell me that I'€™m doing something [wrong]," Farrell said. "They'€™re working on feel. And that'€™s what he'€™s still trying to recapture right now."