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Hanley showing improved footwork

Veteran 'trying to get better and better every day' at new spot
Special to MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When it comes to conducting infield practice on the big league level, few can match the proficiency of Red Sox coach and ground-ball guru Brian Butterfield, with Friday morning's workout on Field 3 a classic case in point.

During Butterfield's double-play drills, Pablo Sandoval consistently threw letter-high lasers to Dustin Pedroia, who appeared to be in midseason form with the pivot-and-throw.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When it comes to conducting infield practice on the big league level, few can match the proficiency of Red Sox coach and ground-ball guru Brian Butterfield, with Friday morning's workout on Field 3 a classic case in point.

During Butterfield's double-play drills, Pablo Sandoval consistently threw letter-high lasers to Dustin Pedroia, who appeared to be in midseason form with the pivot-and-throw.

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While a noticeably more nimble Xander Bogaerts displayed quick hands and feet as he gobbled up grounders to his left, the infielder who drew the most spirited reaction from players and coaches alike was a man with a new position and a new attitude to match: Hanley Ramirez.

Boasting what has quickly become a signature swiping motion with his fielder's mitt, Ramirez appeared to be anything but a player learning a new position as he took grounders and throws.

Ramirez's fielding was crisp and error-free, punctuated by a fluid agility that seemed to escape him during last season's unsuccessful move to left field.

"He looks like he's going to be fine over there," said president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "I think he can do it. He looks like a natural infielder, and I don't see him having any problems fielding ground balls. The key for him is that he's going to have to continue to work at it and we're going to have to make sure he continues to work at it on a daily basis."

A three-time, All-Star shortstop, Ramirez showcased his powerful arm with throws to Pedroia that were consistently accurate, with one toss earning an audible "Yes!" from the fiery second baseman.

Ramirez had told reporters upon his arrival at camp that he was excited to be returning to the infield, and on Friday, it showed.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely. That's my area and I'm very happy to be there," said an upbeat Ramirez moments after the workout. "I'm going to keep working. … Trying to get better and better every day. Do my early work with Butter and try to get as comfortable as I can before Opening Day."

Manager John Farrell was on hand for the workout, and he liked what he saw from his new first baseman. At one point, the Red Sox skipper offered up a "Wow, look at that!" as Ramirez whirled and threw a strike to second after fielding a challenging one-hopper.

"I thought Hanley had a very good day today," said Farrell. "He completed all the plays. As far as the throws ... his footwork today was very good.

"Our focus, and the way Butter will take a player in transition is basically from the ground up, and that means getting his footwork in order. The footwork's going to be different from anything he's experienced on the left side of the infield. … The direction of the throws is the complete opposite of what he's spent so many years doing, so what we're ensuring right now is getting himself in good position."

And as a 10-year veteran turned student, Ramirez appreciates that the work ethic Butterfield espouses is an approach that prevails throughout the Red Sox organization.

"Everybody here's a good coach," beamed Ramirez. "You've got people here that like to work. They never say no, and that's a good thing."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB. com.

Boston Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez