MIAMI -- Back in January, when he was feeling bullish about his health and the overall production he felt capable of for the upcoming season, Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez proclaimed that he was going to be "Miami Hanley" in 2018.So it was only fitting that when Ramirez crushed
MIAMI -- Back in January, when he was feeling bullish about his health and the overall production he felt capable of for the upcoming season, Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez proclaimed that he was going to be "Miami Hanley" in 2018.
So it was only fitting that when Ramirez crushed his first home run of the season, a laser beam of a two-run shot to left on Monday night, it came in a 7-3 victory at Marlins Park against his former team.
Ramirez was everywhere in this one. Aside from two hits, he also stole his second base of the season, topping his total of one from 2017. And in the ninth, he made a nice stretch at first base to corral a throw from Rafael Devers and then a rangy play to his right for the second out.
There was also a human interest story. Before the game, Ramirez saw a child on the field who had trouble walking and talking. Ramirez told the boy he would give him his jersey if he homered.
After the game was over, there was Ramirez with the overjoyed boy, making good on his promise.
"Yeah, when you see things like that, that's life," Ramirez said. "It can happen to anybody. Little kids born like that, it's upsetting. But we've got to keep it strong mentally. He can't walk or talk. I told him, 'If I hit a homer, I'll give you my jersey.' So that's God. I hit that homer."
It was hard not to notice how much fun Ramirez was having in his return to Miami. When he belted his home run, he waved enthusiastically to some special people in the crowd.
"My family. We have like three suites up there," Ramirez said. "We spent a lot of money on tickets. It's good. They're enjoying it. They got a chance to see me play live."
Making the night even more special was that David Ortiz, Ramirez's close friend and former teammate, took the game in from the stands with Marlins owner Derek Jeter and former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.
"Yeah, I saw everybody, for sure. Who can miss David when he shows up? Nobody," Ramirez said. "The crowd was going crazy, too. That's how it's supposed to be."
In the fourth inning, Ramirez went for it all on 3-0 but popped out. An inning later, he made up for it by unloading on a 1-1 slider from Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards and lacing it into the Miami bullpen. The two-run homer extended Boston's lead to 5-1 in the fifth.
According to Statcast™, Ramirez's homer had an exit velocity of 108.3 mph, a projected distance of 384 feet and a launch angle of 21 degrees.
It marked just Ramirez's second career homer against the Marlins, the team he hit 148 for between 2006-12.
Much more important than those stats is what Ramirez currently means to the Red Sox.
Manager Alex Cora is clearly a believer that "Miami Hanley" could be a thing this year, as Ramirez has started the season batting third.
For weeks, Ramirez has been telling anyone who will listen that he's going to have a 30-30 season, which he last did in 2008. Cora jokingly said a few days ago he would treat the entire team to dinner if Ramirez made good on that unlikely promise. Ramirez hasn't even had double-digit steals since 2014.
"He's a good player and he needs 28 more [steals]. We'll see if he gets there," Cora said. "He's closer to 30 bags right now than 30 home runs."
The enigmatic Ramirez is clearly engaged right now, and he's always been at his best when that's the case.
"It's just my coaching staff," Ramirez said. "They're keeping me relaxed and joking the whole game. Don't try to think too much. Go out there and do your job and have fun."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.