When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins last July, they traded for a third baseman -- but got a shortstop.
Ramirez unhappily moved to third base for the Marlins last spring after Miami signed free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. The entire experiment blew up with a disastrous season, and both players have since been traded.
With the Dodgers, Ramirez has a chance to return to his position of choice. However, he will have to exhibit a renewed commitment to defense and focus on being a more reliable player at that position.
"We've made it clear that we're fine with him playing shortstop -- but he has to be better," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.
Colletti pointed out Ramirez's move to third base with the Marlins meant Ramirez had not focused on shortstop since 2011, possibly causing some rustiness as he moved back to the position after the trade to the Dodgers. The Dodgers hoped to address that by having Ramirez play some shortstop in winter ball and also work with coach Tim Wallach at the team's training complex in Arizona before reporting for spring training.
Manager Don Mattingly has said playing Ramirez at shortstop on a daily basis is the best-case scenario for the Dodgers because of the domino effect his struggles potentially would have on the rest of the lineup if he had to be moved.
"I think Hanley will be really important because, if Hanley plays short and he can play the way he's capable of playing it, I'm not really concerned about third (where Luis Cruz is penciled in as the starter)," Mattingly said. "The problem gets to be, if that's not working out at short, then I've got issues with that, and I've got to start flipping guys around.
"If short is steady, I'm good with third. If short doesn't get steady, then I've got issues."