MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- A healthier pair of shoulders has given Hanley Ramirez a burst of excitement heading into 2018.The way Ramirez feels right now, there's little to stop him from having a monster year -- one that could end with a parade in Boston."We can be world champs," Ramirez said
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- A healthier pair of shoulders has given Hanley Ramirez a burst of excitement heading into 2018.
The way Ramirez feels right now, there's little to stop him from having a monster year -- one that could end with a parade in Boston.
"We can be world champs," Ramirez said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend. "We can be a world champ in 2018, that's the goal. We've just got to stay healthy and fight together. I think we have one of the best teams in the big leagues by name. We've got to do the work on the field. You see the Astros. They do the work on the field. They do have a couple of big names [also], but they know how to get the job done on the field. That's what we've got to do -- get the job done."
After an offseason operation on his left shoulder and maintenance improvements on the right one, Ramirez feels ready to rake again like he did in 2016 -- as opposed to last year, when he hit .242 with 23 homers and just 62 RBIs.
"I know I can hit," Ramirez said. "I can get 100 RBIs and 30-plus homers if I'm healthy. That's what we're working for this offseason. No offseason for me, and [it's] starting to show."
Without question, Ramirez looks leaner than he did last season. He compares it to two years ago, when he had a similarly productive offseason and wound up belting 30 homers with 111 RBIs.
"But this year, everything feels quicker, I feel faster and I feel leaner in my body," Ramirez said.
Less than a month after his 34th birthday, Ramirez feels young.
"I'm going to be Miami Hanley doing damage on the field," he said.
But as prolific as Ramirez was in his prime with the Marlins, those seasons didn't end the way he envisions this upcoming one in Boston.
"And [get] past the first round. That's the goal after the last two years," Ramirez said. "We've got to go far, and we have the team to do it. That's the key. First we have to make it to the playoffs, and then make it to the second round. That's what we haven't been able to do, to cross that line right there, and that's our biggest goal from this year."
The Yankees have definitely upped the ante by acquiring Ramirez's former teammate Giancarlo Stanton.
"Good for them," Ramirez said. "We believe in what we've got. We've got a pretty good team. And it's going to be a tough division, but it's going to be a good year. I think the baseball this year [in the rivalry] is going to be even better than last year with what they did. They got that big bat, and the Red Sox, they have pretty good players, Mookie [Betts], Benny [Andrew Benintendi], the young guys, they can do it all."
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The Red Sox still might have another addition if they can sign slugger J.D. Martinez. But wouldn't that impact Ramirez's playing time, given that the outfield is full and Boston re-signed Mitch Moreland to play first base?
"No, you've just got to hit. If you hit, you're gonna play. That's all you've got to do," Ramirez said. "You've got to produce. If we can get him, it would be huge for our lineup. I know I can hit, and I'm gonna hit -- it's not gonna affect me. You've just got to be a good teammate and be ready to go wherever they need you to."
As far as Ramirez's future with the Red Sox goes, his option for 2019 will vest if he gets 497 plate appearances in '18.
"I just want to win," Ramirez said. "If we win, that's going to be taken care of. I'm not thinking about the 500 at-bats. Definitely I want to stay here. This is the team that signed me when I was 16. The first thing we have to do is just win and see what happens after."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.