LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- During the 10th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, held this weekend in the Dominican Republic, Hanley Ramirez told his host, friend and former teammate that he feels rejuvenated after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, as though the ailing joint had been replaced by
LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic -- During the 10th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, held this weekend in the Dominican Republic, Hanley Ramirez told his host, friend and former teammate that he feels rejuvenated after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, as though the ailing joint had been replaced by a new one.
That should be heartening news for the Red Sox, as a healthy Ramirez would be a boon to an offense hampered last season by a lack of power.
Despite winning the American League East in 2017, Boston finished last in the Junior Circuit with 168 home runs, just a year after ranking seventh in that category. No one embodied that regression more than Ramirez, who had a .242 average with 23 homers and 62 RBIs, after a strong 2016, when he finished with a .286 average, hit 30 home runs and drove in 111 runs.
After serving as Boston's starting first baseman for 133 games in 2016, his first season at that position, Ramirez only made 18 appearances (17 starts) at first in 2017, playing instead as the team's primary designated hitter as he battled shoulder woes that led to his Oct. 17 surgery.
"Everything went well, thank God, just like we expected," said Ramirez of the procedure. "It had been a while since I felt like I do now."
Though president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has said he believes Ramirez should be healthy enough to play a full season of defense in 2018, the Red Sox are nonetheless exploring the possibility of acquiring a power-hitting first baseman. There are options available through free agency (Eric Hosmer is the most coveted option on the market) and trades (Boston is one of several teams that have had conversations with the White Sox about slugger Jose Abreu, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman).
A productive Ramirez at first would give Dombrowski the flexibility to pursue a power hitter at a different position, however. Among those who trust in Ramirez's ability to bounce back is Ortiz, who retired after the 2016 season and in September agreed to rejoin the Red Sox in a front-office role that includes mentoring, recruiting and advising.
"With the type of hitter Hanley is, I don't think hitting is going to be a problem for him next year, because he'll be healthier," Ortiz said. "My understanding is that the organization is looking for a first baseman because Hanley is coming off surgery and there's more of a tendency to get hurt out there playing defense than as a designated hitter."
Ramirez signed with the Red Sox for four years and $88 million prior to the 2015 season. His contract includes an option for 2019 that will vest if he compiles at least 1,050 plate appearances between the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.
Regarding his future at first base, the veteran gave a diplomatic answer.
"I don't control that," said Ramirez. "That's [the team's] decision. I'll be ready for whatever. I am an employee of the organization. I'm happy to be there. I think that's the beautiful thing about playing for the Boston Red Sox; they're always thinking about improving the team."