Hanley Ramirez reached base in both of his plate appearances Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. He is batting .357 this spring and his play at shortstop hasn’t offered the Dodgers any reason to be worried about his defense.
On Sunday, he’ll leave for San Juan, Puerto Rico to prepare for the World Baseball Classic with his Domincan Republic teammates. Minutes after being pulled from Saturday’s game, Ramirez didn’t sound like a man who was ready to hop on a plane and leave camp.
“I was looking forward to getting to spring” training, he said. “This here is the main thing. The WBC is going to be different when we get there. Right now, I’m just concentrating on this team. There’s too many pieces here.”
One reason why Ramirez won’t have to shift his focus: He might not have to shift positions.
It’s been assumed for months that Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes would be the everyday shortstop for the Dominican Republic once WBC play begins. After all, that’s what happened a year ago in Miami, when the Marlins signed Reyes off the free agent market and tried converting Ramirez to third base before trading him to the Dodgers in midseason.
On Saturday, Ramirez said that he wouldn’t play in the field anywhere other than shortstop.
“Hopefully. Let’s see how everything goes,” he said. “For now, yeah, short and DH.”
Ramirez cautioned that he hasn’t confirmed these plans with Dominican general manager Moises Alou. But his clear first choice is to stay at the position the Dodgers want him playing in the regular season, perhaps feeling pressure to improve from a subpar 2012 season both at the plate and in the field.
“All the work we’ve been doing now in spring training, we don’t want to go back,” he said. “We’ve got to keep getting better, keep improving. Can’t stop here. We’ve been doing a great job. I don’t want to let anybody down. I’ve got to keep working.”
For that reason, Ramirez’s attitude toward the WBC is different from that of teammate Luis Cruz, who will play for Team Mexico. He said Saturday that he’s been thinking about the WBC since January, putting in extra training for the long season with teammate Adrian Gonzalez.
Ramirez’s attitude shows that sometimes personal pride trumps national pride.
“I go out there and play the game like it’s going to be my last game every day,” even in spring training, Ramirez said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do — just stay focused and play hard all the way to the end. Keep getting better.”