So What’s the Trouble With Hanley, Again?
Should the Red Sox be afraid of Hanley Being Hanley?
And is Hanley Being Hanley even a thing?
There is quite a behavioral history to look back on since the soon-to-be 31-year-old slugger signed with the Red Sox in 2000 at the age of 16.
Since that time, there’s been a steady flow of Ramirez tales on the subject of immaturity, emotional outbursts, stubbornness, and even – gulp – behavior akin to Manny Being Manny Ramirez — the player whose dreadlock hairstyle he adopted, and as a tribute to the former Sox slugger built a bedroom shrine in Santo Domingo in 2004.
In 2005, Ramirez was turning double plays for Double-A Portland with Dustin Pedroia and was pegged as the next great Red Sox right-handed power hitter.
His professional career in Boston consists of two forgettable strikeouts in 2005, but a whole lot more has happened on and off the field since Ramirez left town in the big swap with the Florida Marlins that resulted in Josh Beckett pitching for Boston.
So what’s the Hanley Ramirez baggage all about?
Let’s take a quick look back at some of the more highly-publicized incidents of Ramirez being a not-so-happy camper through the years.
Ramirez Found Trouble in Sox Farm System
Even before being shipped to Florida in Nov. 2005, Ramirez’s temper got him into some trouble during his days in the Red Sox minor league system.
The Globe’s Stan Grossfeld wrote about the incidents in a piece on Ramirez in Dec. 2004:
In October 2002, while playing in the Instructional League, he swore at an assistant trainer and was sent home to the Dominican Republic for the equivalent of an international timeout.
“It was the worst day of my life,’’ he said.
In May 2003, while playing for Single A Augusta, he received a 10-day suspension for making an inappropriate gesture toward his own dugout.
Ramirez reluctantly spoke to Grossfeld about the incident in Georgia.
“I was accused of something I did not do, and later on they found out the truth about that issue and realized I was innocent,’’ Ramirez said. “That day I was just mad that for a while some people were thinking something about me that was not true. I reacted that way. I was so angry. I learned from that a lot. That’s never going to happen again.’’
Renteria Signing Hurts Ramirez
After the 2004 championship season, the Red Sox let shortstop Orlando Cabrera walk due to what was widely reported as “off-field issues’’ and signed veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria as Ramirez was thought to be more than a year away from taking the field at Fenway.
Nevertheless, Ramirez was not thrilled with the Renteria signing.
“Of course I am hurt that I did not get the position I was expecting to fill,’’ Ramirez told Grossfeld in 2004. “But I will play wherever they want me to and, for that matter, with whatever team wants me. I just like to play ball.’’
Ramirez also seemed to read the writing on the wall in ’04 when he said “You never know; they could trade me.’’
A Star is Born and Problems Begin
After being dealt to Florida, Ramirez burst onto the Major League scene in 2006 as a rookie with the Marlins, batting .292/.353/.480 with 17 home runs and 51 stolen bases to take NL Rookie of the Year honors. In May of 2008, the Marlins signed him to a six-year, $70 million contract extension. By the midsummer, he was the starting shortstop for the National League in the 2008 All-Star Game and finished the year with a career-high 33 homers and 125 runs scored.
Ramirez was on the cusp of becoming the next baseball superstar.
He won the batting title 2009, but his prickly personality reared its head during spring training.
Trouble began when the team instituted a new short-hair policy that forced Ramirez to cut away his long cornrows. Ramirez threw a fit in the clubhouse, scrawled an expletive-laden message across his chest in protest of the policy, and demanded a trade over the new dress code that also prohibited him from wearing jewelry while playing.
“I’m sick of this s—,’’ Ramirez wrote across his chest using a Sharpie.
“I’m angry, I want to be traded,’’ said Ramirez adding, “It’s incredible, we’re big-leaguers.’’
In April, Ramirez was razzed by fans for his lackadaisical base running after he failed to make it to third base on what some thought could have been an inside-the-park homer in a game, didn’t advance on a fly ball, and was thrown out attempting to steal third. He would also draw the fans ire for admiring fly balls he believed would leave the park, only to see them stay in play while he trots into second base instead of third.
In August, Ramirez was challenged on his effort by Marlins third baseman Wes Helms in an altercation that reportedly turned physical, at least briefly.
2009: A Rough Year Off the Field With Signs of What’s To Come
In a highly-publicized and public incident in September, second baseman Dan Uggla accused Ramirez of faking an injury and quitting on the team in a game against the Braves.
Ramirez and Uggla got into a shouting match after Ramirez pulled himself out of a game in the middle of the pennant race, complaining of a tight left hamstring. The two teammates went at it in front of reporters over the incident.
Ramirez reportedly said that his hamstring was “only 10 percent’’ but he felt obligated to play because some teammates were unhappy with him.
In the locker room, Uggla questioned Ramirez’s commitment to winning and at one point reportedly said, “Yeah, you got your $70 million,’’ referring to Ramirez’s six-year contract adding, “If you really wanted to win, you would have never come out of the game.’’
Also in September of that tumultuous 2009, Ramirez was aggravated that none of his teammates retaliated when he was hit by a pitch in a game against the Blue Jays. Ramirez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the Marlins had an “obligation’’ to retaliate.
Jorge Arangure Jr. in ESPN The Magazine described Ramirez in 2009 as “a player with admirable work habits, yet an almost displeasing demeanor. Ramirez as a person can be dismissive and distant, yet as a player he’s dynamic and impossible to dislike.’’
Arangure asked Ramirez what he learned from the incidents, to which Hanley replied, “I learned I needed to keep my hair short.’’
Hanley Rips Fredi Gonzalez After Marlins Manager Benches Him
In May 2010, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled Ramirez from a game for not hustling after a ground ball that Ramirez booted. Ramirez was sent to the clubhouse after the inning. He later said a foul ball off his shin in a previous at bat caused him to go after the ball with less than full effort.
The day after the getting yanked, Ramirez addressed the media and said, “It’s his fu—ing team,’’ in reference to his manager.
“He didn’t play in the big leagues. He didn’t understand,’’ Ramirez said of Gonzalez according to the Miami Herald.
According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark at the time, Ramirez received “a stand-down talking-to by Marlins assistants Andre Dawson and Tony Perez. The two Hall of Famers, in a meeting described by Palm Beach Post writer Joe Capozzi as ‘an intervention,’ essentially told Ramirez he was acting like a spoiled brat and that, as Dawson put it, ‘You’re not bigger than the game.’’’
The next day, Ramirez apologized to his teammates individually and told reporters he was wrong to react like he did.
“It’s a shame, but Hanley frustrates the guys on that team,’’ one of his ex-teammates told Stark, “because everyone knows how much talent he has. Everyone has seen how great he can be out there. But then they also see the times where he just kind of gets nonchalant. It seems like he can turn the switch on any time he wants to. But he doesn’t always turn it on… It’s almost like you have to challenge him all the time to get him to play like he can.’’
Ramirez, Lester, and Pizza Don’t Mix in July
Ramirez was teammates with former Red Sox lefthander and prized free agent Jon Lester when the two toiled in the Red Sox minors, last playing together for the Sea Dogs in 2005.
When the two were in Anaheim for the All-Star game in 2010, Lester was asked about the relationship with Ramirez and if the two had had ever shared a pizza together during their days in the Sox farm system.
“I’d have a better chance of being struck by lightning than me and him getting a pizza together,’’ Lester told the USA Today. “You can take that for what it’s worth. But there was no chance on God’s green earth that I was getting a pizza with him.’’
Any way you slice it, that statement wasn’t an endorsement from the highly sought after southpaw ace .
Ramirez Ripped By Logan Morrison in Front of Teammates
In June 2011, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison called out Ramirez in the clubhouse when the star shortstop was late arriving when newly-hired manager Jack McKeon addressed his new team for the first time.
Sources told the Miami Herald that Morrison ripped into Ramirez, saying his tardy behavior could be the reason why he is hitting just .200.
Ramirez Calls Jeff Conine a Chicken
In July, 2011, former Marlins star and team special assistant Jeff Conine made some unflattering remarks about Ramirez in a radio appearance saying that he “frustrates him nightly’’ and stating he would trade the shortstop if the decision was his to make.
“If he’s got a problem, just come over and talk to me like a man,’’ Ramirez responded. “Don’t be a chicken, talking on the [radio], because whatever you say is going to stay out there.’’
Ramirez then said his goal was to take over as “Mr. Marlin,’’ a nickname given to Conine during his eight years with the club.
“I’m going to make it to the Hall of Fame being in a Marlins uniform,’’ Ramirez said. “This number [No. 2], nobody’s going to wear it.’’
Ramirez would play in only 92 games in an injury-plagued 2011 season.
Ramirez Distraught Over Move from Short to Third After Reyes Signing
In Dec. 2011, the Marlins signed free agent shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million contract. The signing would necessitate Ramirez moving over from shortstop to third base full time to accommodate Reyes.
Ramirez reportedly was “distraught’’ at the thought of changing positions from shortstop to third base.
“Hanley doesn’t want to play third base and the Marlins were informed of that,’’ ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reported during the winter meetings. “Rather than ask for a trade, what he has done is to inform [the team] that he does not want to play another position other than shortstop.’’
The only public comment from Ramirez came via Twitter, when the disgruntled slugger tweeted, “What I can do now is work hard and be prepared for next season because that’s all that I can control, I love you all !!!!’’
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the disgruntled infielder requested a restructured deal from the team and that the Marlins would be looking to trade him.
Ramirez produced a commercial for Powerade in Spanish during the 2011 offseason. In the ad, Ramirez is shown with a Sharpie and Louisville Slugger in hand, scrawling the Twitter handles of his detractors onto the barrel — presumably aimed at those who sniped at him during the disappointing, injury-plagued 2011 season, or said he behaved petulantly when he was slow to embrace the position switch to third.
Even after the Marlins brought in player-friendly manager Ozzie Guillen before the start of the 2012 season, Ramirez was still not buying into becoming a third baseman.
“No,’’ Guillen said. “No, Hanley is not 100 percent on board. Not yet. The last time I talked to him, no. But I don’t expect him to be. I expect him to be 100 percent on board with this move when we play St. Louis [on Opening Night]. Right now, just let it be, man. Let it be.’’
Reyes would go on to play 160 games as the Marlins shortstop in 2012 while Ramirez was moved to third, and eventually out of Miami.
Ramirez Traded to Dodgers
In July 2012, Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Randy Choate for a pair of minor leaguers . Despite all the incidents with Ramirez over the years, many Marlins fans were upset with the trade while most players were reportedly fine with moving Ramirez out of town.
“There were a lot of smiles,’’ according to one player who spoke to the Miami Herald after the trade. “They created a monster from a very good baseball player — gave him so much slack to do whatever the [expletive] he wanted because he was performing.’’
With the Dodgers, the issues with Ramirez were more injury than insults.
He’s been injury-plagued over the past few years, unable to match the 150-plus games games season he had in his first five years in the majors. The health issues over Ramirez’s career have ranged from arthroscopic surgury on his left shoulder to a torn ligament in his thumb to pulled hamstrings and calf injuries.
In September, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seemed to grow frustrated with Ramirez’s inability to stay in the lineup and took a shot at Ramirez after the slugger returned to the playing field after sitting out with an assortment of injuries.
“He seemed OK,’’ Mattingly said. “At this point, if a guy says he’s good to go, he’s good to go. It can’t be a gray area. You’re in or you’re out. There can’t be excuses. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. You’re in, you’re in. You’re out, you’re out.’’
Now Ramirez is in Boston. And he says he’s a new man.
“Everything changed after I was traded from Florida to LA.,’’ Ramirez said Tuesday, when he was introduced at Fenway Park five and half hours after Pablo Sandoval met with the media. “I was around guys that have been in the game, being men at the same time they’re being players, who come up to me and are talking to me and telling me what I’m doing wrong and then you go, ‘Wow, that’s right. I won’t do it again.’
“After I got there, I learned how to win. So right now I’m a different player, I’m a different person than I was before in my mid-20s. When you’re young, you just play, you don’t think anything of it. When you’re older, you’re here to bring championships to the team and you want to do that every year.’’
We’ll find out what Ramirez can bring and what Hanley Being Hanley means, if anything, when the new Red Sox left fielder takes the field in Fort Myers and starts over where it all began.