Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:15 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:03 pm
JUPITER, Fla. -- Hanley Ramirez's smile was bigger than his muscles, which look bigger than ever. Ramirez was smiling broadly throughout the team's first full-squad workout, either the result of an attitude overhaul or a determined effort to prove everyone wrong that he carried the potential to destroy the good feeling around Marlins camp. When someone remarked what great shape he appeared to be in, Ramirez said, "When everyone was talking ... I was working.''
There was indeed a lot of talk this winter about Ramirez, and more specifically, whether he'd take to the switch from his beloved shortstop to third base. Stories seemed to swing back and forth about whether Hanley hated, tolerated or relished the move. I'm not sure whether it's because today was the day for the brief media refresher course, but Ramirez's public message was that he loved third base and was looked foward to the challenge. "It's 200 percent OK,'' Ramirez said. "I feel it in my heart. I feel it in my mind. I feel it in my body.''
Meanwhile, in case Ramirez's feelings are ahead of his skills, new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has begun lowering expectations for Ramirez at third base. "He's not a Gold Glover (at third base). We have to be patient. He will make mistakes,'' Guillen said.
He is far from a media darling and has been considered something of a prickly personality in the past, but he is making no mistakes in the interview sessions so far, that's for sure. Maybe he's been humbled a tad. Between a season in which he hit an uncharacteristic .243 to his very public forced transfer to third base, perhaps he understands he isn't the king of the team anymore. He was always the star of the Marlins as well as the obvious personal favorite of team owner Jeffrey Loria, who once bought a gold necklace for Ramirez in honor of his batting title. Now Ramirez is only one of several Marlins stars, including up-and-coming slugger Mike Stanton plus free agent imports Jose Reyes (the reason for Ramirez's move), Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
So far at least, Ramirez understands the news is all positive here, and judging by his demeanor, he isn't about to do anything to jeopardize that. He also likes his chances at third better than Guillen does. Asked how he thinks he'll be at third, he said, "Great ... the best.''