After signing an $88 million contract, expectations for three-time All-Star Hanley Ramirez were high last season. He failed to reach those expectations, struggling to find his groove in left field after hitting 10 homers in April.
Ramirez is set to return to the infield this season, albeit at first base and not shortstop, where he spent the majority of his career.
“I’m really happy to be back in the infield,” Ramirez told Rick Weber of ESPN.com. “It’s been a while [since] I’ve taken ground balls in a real game, and I’m really excited.”
Ramirez also said the defensive prowess of his infielders, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and shortstop Xander Bogaerts, will make his job easier at first base. Several advanced metrics illustrated Ramirez’s deficiency in the outfield, so for the Red Sox to succeed, they need him to improve defensively in 2016.
Offensively, Ramirez only batted .249 last season with 53 RBI’s. He dropped a couple pounds this offseason, and added more muscle, looking to improve on those meager numbers.
“I don’t like to talk about myself, but if I stay on the field the whole season, 150-plus games, good things can happen,” said Ramirez.
For the Red Sox to improve from last year’s last-place finish in the stacked AL East, Ramirez needs to significantly exceed his 2015 production. The weight loss and position change is a start, but now Ramirez has to show it on the diamond.