Even when he was making All-Star teams at the position, Hanley Ramirez was never a very good defensive shortstop. Most advanced defensive metrics pegged him as well below average in those years.
Nonetheless, the Los Angeles Dodgers are determined to make Ramirez their everyday shortstop this season -- if he improves his defense.
"Hanley can do this," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said as spring training opened. "We're not asking him to be Omar Vizquel. We're not asking him to be Ozzie Smith. We're asking him to catch the balls he's supposed to catch, make the plays he's supposed to make, turn the double plays he's supposed to turn."
Toward that end, the Dodgers hoped Ramirez would play shortstop in winter ball. Ramirez played winter ball, but a minor shoulder injury limited him to designated hitter duty for all but one game during the winter season and one game during the Caribbean Series.
Ramirez played 57 of his 65 games at shortstop after his midseason trade to the Dodgers last year. He admits his defense was not very good in that stretch but explained it as a result of the difficult transition from shortstop to third base in the spring, then back to shortstop during the year.
"It was different moving in the middle of the season," Ramirez said. "I was pretty much at third base when the trade happened. It's harder to go from third base to shortstop than it is from short to third. The angles are different. It's a different perspective. The timing is different and, to me, that's what this game is all about: timing.
"I know I can do better than that."