Hanley starting to test right shoulder

DH not yet cleared to play first; Smith to throw off mound

March 6th, 2017
Hanley Ramirez is starting to throw again, but the Red Sox are not sure when he'll be able to play first base. (AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- 's right shoulder injury has cleared to the point where he is in the early stages of a throwing program, but there's no word on when he will be able to play first base. The right-handed-hitting slugger continues to get at-bats at designated hitter, and he was slotted third in the lineup on Monday against the Astros. Houston and Boston tied, 5-5, and Ramirez went 1-for-3 with a run scored.

"His throwing right now is abbreviated -- it's out to 60 feet," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Hopefully there's incremental progress here. We're a month away, so we still feel like there's ample time to get him to where he's defensively capable at first base. Nothing suggests right now that there's a plateau of his progress. The treatment, the strengthening, that continues to show increases, and hopefully the throwing will soon follow."

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There is less of a concern this season about Ramirez's ability to play defense, because his primary position will be DH. But Farrell is planning on a platoon with Mitch Moreland, in which Ramirez is targeted to play first against left-handers.

"That's the approach right now," said Farrell. "You're probably on average going to get 70, 75 percent right-handed starters throwing against you, that would be a rough estimate. The remainder, the 40 games at first base, is probably a pretty good gauge or estimate, assuming nothing takes place with Mitch and any kind of injury."

Worth noting

• Right-hander , less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, will throw off a mound at some point this week. If Smith can return to the Red Sox by midseason, he could serve as a significant addition to the bullpen. Smith was a force as a setup man for the Mariners in 2015, which led to the Red Sox acquiring him for after that season.