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The Dodgers shortstop has played virtually no shortstop this spring

Mar 19, 2013, 8:49 AM EDT

Hanley Ramirez Reuters

One of the reasons I’m hesitant to pick the Dodgers in the NL West despite all that talent is that almost all of that talent has question marks. Some guys have health questions. Some guys have to show that their best years aren’t behind them. Some guys — well, Hanley Ramirez — has to show that he can go back to his old, tougher defensive position and not be a liability.

As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes, that last one is becoming a bigger and bigger question:

Ramirez is the designated hitter for the Dominican Republic in Monday’s World Baseball Classicsemifinal against the Netherlands. He has alternated between third base and DH in the tournament, batting .176 with two home runs in the previous six games.

His fielding last season so concerned the Dodgers that they wanted him to play shortstop in winter ball, but a shoulder injury limited him to DH. He played 25 innings of shortstop over six games at the start of spring training, then left to join the Dominican team.

I don’t know how someone who was already a defensive liability at short can be ready to play a full season at short with minimal preparation there. But I guess we’ll see it play out in real time with Hanley Ramirez.

  1. chill1184 - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Interesting……

  2. darthicarus - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Now I’m no major league player and I know that practice makes perfect, but the fact that Hanley has 886 ML games played at SS compared to 98 at 3B he should hopefully have retained some knowledge of how to handle SS. Now those 886 games at SS weren’t Ozzie Smith-esque but I can’t imagine he could get any worse than the -5 runs per year he allowed by not getting any reps this spring.

    • Old Gator - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Heh – you didn’t get to watch ol’ Manos de Piedra play short for years like I did. There was a season box holder at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium three rows up and four seats to the left of first base that he used to use as a target when throwing to first. Fortunately, when the Hanster opened at third at Macondo Banana Massacre Field last season, the guy must have relocated to somewhere nearer home plate and our faux third baseman had no one to throw to but our first baseman. He was on his way to California before he could find an alternate reference point. Good luck out there, sunsetsiders!

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      That old saying always bothered me. In actuality practice makes permanent. If you practice incorrectly you perform incorrectly. You’d think 886 games, and all the practice inherent in so many turns at SS, would have made Ramirez better at the position, but maybe he’s as good as he’ll ever be. And that’s a scary thought for Dodger fans and pitchers.

  3. unclemosesgreen - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Even the best shortstops need lots and lots of practice reps to stay on top of their game. He will be absolutely brutal for at least a couple of months. By then he should be merely abysmal.

  4. mazblast - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Here’s an admittedly weird idea. Why don’t we wait and see how he actually plays the position before we decide whether he can play it anymore?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of Ramirez when it comes to his defense. He’s not terribly good. However, he’s not out there for his defense, he’s out there because he’s supposed to be an offensive force, and if he can play adequate defense at short while hitting well, he’s a big asset.

    • spudchukar - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in Baseball. You cannot win with a substandard defensive SS. And calling Ramirez “substandard” is kind. For a team that is “in it to win it”, the Dodgers are making some choices.

      As I stated yesterday, the perfect place for Kyle Lohse is LA. It is a pitcher’s park, an asset for a pitch to contact guy, and if they did acquire him, they could move a couple of their mediocre starters, which they have an abundance of, and get themselves a SS that will keep them in games. It is hard to believe that Cruz will be the answer at 3B anyway.

      Once you have committed the the kind of cash the Dodgers’ have for 2013, it seems silly to not complete the deal, and give your team the full set of tools necessary to compete. Why spend all that cash and still leave a glaring hole?

      Perhaps, the LA management wants to give Cruz a shot, with the possibility of returning Gordon to SS, and move Hanley to 3B, when it becomes apparent he cannot handle SS, but by then Lohse will be gone. Why not address the issue now? Hanley Ramirez is no longer a legitimate alternative at the SS position. I know it, Gator knows it, the Marlin fan base knows it, including the bombarded season-ticket holder, other GM’s in Baseball know it, and the Dodger faithful will learn all too quickly the obvious.

      • spudchukar - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        I should add the Dominican Republic brain trust also appears to know it. The Dodgers do not need offensive production from the SS position, just somebody who can make the routine plays on a regular basis. They have enough offense.

      • spudchukar - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        er.. should read “odd choices in sentence #4 above.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        Sure you can win with a substandard defensive SS. Have you seen how bejeweled Jeter’s hand is?

  5. jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    He is terrible at shortstop. Just put him in left field already

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