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Ramirez's versatility gives relief to ailing Tribe

Skilled defender slides back to third base after filling in for Kipnis at second
MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Part of Jose Ramirez's value is his ability to move around the diamond for the Indians. While Jason Kipnis was sidelined earlier this month, Ramirez filled in at second base. Last year, Ramirez played left field in Michael Brantley's absence before sliding to third base for the second half.

With Kipnis now off the disabled list, Ramirez handed over the keys to second and returned to the hot corner. Calling Ramirez a utility player does not accurately describe what he brings to the table for Cleveland, because he is in the lineup every day and has found a home as the team's fifth hitter.

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CHICAGO -- Part of Jose Ramirez's value is his ability to move around the diamond for the Indians. While Jason Kipnis was sidelined earlier this month, Ramirez filled in at second base. Last year, Ramirez played left field in Michael Brantley's absence before sliding to third base for the second half.

With Kipnis now off the disabled list, Ramirez handed over the keys to second and returned to the hot corner. Calling Ramirez a utility player does not accurately describe what he brings to the table for Cleveland, because he is in the lineup every day and has found a home as the team's fifth hitter.

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"It's not a utility player," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's kind of just a really good player that can be versatile. I think there's a difference."

Video: CLE@MIN: Ramirez hammers two-run homer to right

This spring, Ramirez's flexibility opened the door for the Indians to bring rookie Yandy Diaz north as their third baseman. Cleveland's options without Kipnis for the first few weeks would have been more limited without Ramirez's ability to switch positions with such ease.

Ramirez enjoyed his time at second base, but is just as happy to move back to third.

"I felt good about it," Ramirez said through team translator Anna Bolton. "[Second base] was my position earlier in the Minor Leagues and everywhere else. I felt good there, but I'm also really happy that Kipnis is back."

Francona said the move to third should be easy for Ramirez to handle, especially because he was already playing in the infield, and Ramirez agreed with the assessment. It was a little more challenging last season, when Ramirez moved from left field to third base following the release of veteran third baseman Juan Uribe.

Video: DET@CLE: Ramirez records four hits, plates six in win

"I think it'll be much easier this year," said Indians third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh, who is also the team's infield instructor. "In the back of his mind, he was expecting that move. Being able to be there the last couple months of the season every day, and starting at third in Spring Training, and having all that time, I think you can see he's very comfortable."

Diaz was optioned to Triple-A Columbus when Kipnis was activated Friday, and the rookie will play third and likely garner time in the outfield in the Minors, too. Ramirez has shown that being able to play multiple positions can create more opportunities for a player, and he hopes Diaz takes that same mindset while in Triple-A.

"He played really well," Ramirez said. "[Playing more than one position] adds wonderful value, because he has an opportunity to play at many positions. It adds value to who he is, and to the team."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Jose Ramirez