Hanley wastes no time making Dodgers debut
Willing to 'do whatever' LA asks, slugger bats fifth, plays third base
ST. LOUIS -- Hanley Ramirez wrote his own headline.
"Hanleywood," he tweeted after landing in St. Louis, a rushed trip to be in the starting lineup for his new team, the Dodgers, in Wednesday night's game against the Cardinals.
Hanleywood. Mannywood. What's with the Dodgers and these midseason Ramirez acquisitions?
"I'm happy to be here," Ramirez said after dressing in his new Dodger Blue. "This organization has a lot of history. I never thought I was going to be traded until last night and I started to think about it."
Ramirez said he would "do whatever for the ballclub, that's why they got me" when asked if he is willing to play either shortstop or third base. That became one of several contentious issues for Ramirez, who was bumped to third base when the Marlins signed free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes last winter.
Manager Don Mattingly said the best answer he got from Ramirez in their short meeting came after Ramirez was asked if he preferred to play third or shortstop.
"He said, 'It doesn't matter, I just want to win.' He's up for anything we want him to do," Mattingly said.
Mattingly then put Ramirez into the lineup, batting fifth and starting at third base. The Dodgers newcomer responded by going 2-for-4 with a triple, walk, RBI single and a run scored in the Dodgers' 3-2 loss in 12 innings.
"Hanley's legit," Mattingly said after the game. "The guy can play. I think at the end of the day this is going to be a good trade. His body's live. The ball jumps off the bat. We got a good player today."
Third base is the only position Ramirez played this year for the Marlins, but Mattingly will move Ramirez to his original spot at shortstop as soon as Ramirez takes enough grounders to say he's comfortable there again.
"He said he hadn't played short in a year, so we'll give him a few days to get comfortable," Mattingly said. "The last thing I want to do is bring him in, he flies in, changes teams and plays a position he hasn't played in a year."
Ramirez will remain at shortstop and Luis Cruz will be the primary third baseman, Mattingly said, until Dee Gordon is healed from his torn thumb ligament, at which time it will be decided if Gordon reclaims his job and bumps Ramirez to third base, or Ramirez stays put.
"Right now at short fits best with our club and I can mix and match at third," Mattingly said. "I don't want to yo-yo him."
Mattingly hinted that Ramirez might remain at shortstop even after Gordon returns.
"What makes us the best team?" he asked. "If he's at third? At short? Dee's in for whatever makes us the best team."
Ramirez said when he first heard of the deal he was disappointed after spending seven years with the Marlins and establishing Miami as his family's home.
"It's hard to leave everything behind," he said.
The last time the Dodgers landed a Ramirez in midseason, it was Manny in 2008 and it turned out pretty well, as the slugger unleashed the greatest two-month hitting spree in Dodgers history and carried L.A. to the postseason.
"It's nice to see that last name on the back of a uniform," right fielder and cleanup hitter Andre Ethier said. "I don't think anyone can duplicate what Manny did those last two months. If he does half that, it's pretty impressive. I'm excited to have him here."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.