|Familiar issues for Hanley Ramirez||05.18.10 at 2:27 pm ET|
On Monday, Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the game after he kicked a ball off of his shin into left field and then, according to Gonzalez, jogged listlessly to chase it down. That has set off a bit of a firestorm in South Florida, with Gonzalez and Ramirez’ teammate Wes Helms stating that the superstar should apologize to his teammates. For his part, Ramirez has shown no remorse, stating that he believes that he does not owe his teammates an apology, and instead criticizing Gonzalez. (For more on the controversy, click here.)
Ramirez, of course, came up in the Sox’ farm system. While in the organization, both his superstar potential and his penchant for alienating his teammates with his lackadaisical play were common topics. If anything was going to prevent the dynamic talent from reaching his potential, those who played with him figured it would be his attitude, something that became clear in this story about the ridiculously loaded 2005 Portland Sea Dogs Double-A team that featured Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon (as well as many other future big leaguers).
“I could see that he had potential but he was such a baby and I was threatening to beat him up every other day,” said Jeff Bailey, who was a catcher on the 2005 Sea Dogs. “He would do stupid things on and off the field, every time I saw him doing something stupid I would tell him he was a piece of [expletive].”
Obviously, the Sox would have preferred that Ramirez avoid the character questions that seemed to dog him. Even so, the organization also tried to maintain perspective: Ramirez had been ordained the next huge thing, earning the title of the organization’s top prospect in three straight years by the time he was 21.
It is fair to suggest that he was immature, but it might be unfair to have expected him not to be.
“There’s no doubt that Hanley wasn’t a guy you could just leave alone and say, ‘Hanley’s going to show up on time and get his work done and play hard tonight.’ You had to stay on him,” said Todd Claus, Ramirez’ manager in Sarasota in 2004 and Portland in 2005. “You never really had to do that with Pedroia, but Pedroia went to college for three years in a totally different atmosphere. He learned how to play the game in college. The Red Sox to some degree were Hanley’s college and so you’re sort of comparing apples to oranges there.
“Hanley having the label of the Red Sox’ top prospect for three years in a row, most kids should have been in high school. Hanley dealt with a lot of publicity and ink and a lot of media, and I think anyone in his situation probably would have dealt with the same problems.”
Certainly, the current incident with the Marlins (and the past with the Sox) does little to diminish Ramirez’ status as one of the best players in the game. And, it is worth noting that the Sox have not been deterred by makeup questions about Ramirez when they have made overtures to the Marlins in the past about trying to reacquire him.
That said, it is a reminder that, as much as Ramirez has matured and blossomed since going to the Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston following the 2005 season, the process of his development may not be complete.
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