"It's my life. Baseball is my life".
David recently sat down with Hanley Ramirez, widely regarded as the team's shortstop-of the-future. Ramirez, a 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, is rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Boston organization. Considered a five-tool player, he was recently promoted from Sarasota to the AA Portland Sea Dogs. We caught up with Hanley at Hadlock Field and talked about the road from Santo Domingo to Fenway Park. Free Preview of Premium Content
DL: Tell us about growing up and playing baseball in the Dominican Republic.
Hanley Ramirez: My mom used to take me to the ballpark to play. She stayed with me and had fun, and we went a lot. She gave me a glove, shoes -- everything I needed. I remember always coming home dirty after a game, having played hard for hours. My dad was involved, too. He worked, but helped me with baseball when he came home. I played in many tournaments and got a lot of trophies.
DL: Did your father teach you how to play?
Hanley Ramirez: I was born with talent -- no one person taught me. It's like I was meant to play baseball.
DL: Did you follow the major leagues growing up?
Hanley Ramirez: Not at all. When I signed I didn't even know that I'd get paid. Now I follow it. I love Boston, and I love Manny (Ramirez).
DL: Do you know Manny?
Hanley Ramirez: I know Manny. I know Neifi Perez, Angel Guzman, DeAngelo Jimenez. I played winter ball with them and they all helped me a lot.
DL: You're considered Boston's shortstop-of-the-future, but did play a few games at second and third base in 2002. What are your thoughts on playing anywhere other than short?
Hanley Ramirez: I'd play anywhere. I love shortstop and would like to stay there, but mostly I just want to play.
DL: Do get as much pleasure out of making a great defensive play as hitting a home run?
Hanley Ramirez: (smiles) I love to play defense. I want to help the team win, and making a good play is exciting.
DL: How long have you been a switch hitter?
Hanley Ramirez: I used to be right-handed only, and now I'm back to that. I don't have much power left-handed, but do from the right side. I wanted to switch hit, but not anymore. I'm back to hitting only right-handed.
DL: What is your approach at the plate?
Hanley Ramirez: I like to stay through the middle and hit the ball at the pitcher's head. I like to see what they throw and then react to their pitches. I like to hit fastballs but can stay back and hit curves, too.
DL: You have very good speed. Do you enjoy stealing bases?
Hanley Ramirez: I love to get on base and run! I'm working on improving my base running and base stealing. I want to get better.
DL: Tampa Bay recently called up B.J. Upton, who is a five-tool prospect but only 19-years-old. What are your thoughts on being promoted to the majors at such a young age?
Hanley Ramirez: He's my friend, so I'm happy he made it. And what I have, I'm happy with. I just want to play, and I'll play here, in Pawtucket, anywhere.
DL: Tell us about your experiences going through the Red Sox system.
Hanley Ramirez: When I signed I started in the Dominican Summer League. Then I was in the Gulf Coast League, Lowell and Augusta, and lots of people have helped me. Todd Claus and David Howard in Sarasota are great. Todd is my best friend there. A difference is the fans. There aren't many in Sarasota, but there are a lot here and in Lowell. I want to play for the fans in Boston some day. They love baseball. They love it like I love it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Todd Claus is the manager at Sarasota, David Howard the batting coach.
DL: Talk about some of your teammates in Sarasota this summer.
Hanley Ramirez: Everyone there has talent. (Matt) Murton was real good. Westy (Jeremy West) can really hit. (Jon) Papelbon and (Juan) Cedeno are throwing real good. Manny Delcarmen throws really hard -- about 98.
DL: You mentioned Matt Murton. What was it like when he got traded in the Nomar Garciaparra deal?
Hanley Ramirez: We missed him. He played hard and always used to say, "Let's go and get it done." He said he wanted to play with me someday in Boston.
DL: You've heard your own name mentioned in trade rumors. How do you deal with that?
Hanley Ramirez: I don't think about it. I just keep playing hard. You never know what will happen.
DL: What's important to Hanley Ramirez on the field?
Hanley Ramirez: Winning makes me happy.
DL: What if the team loses, but you have a great game?
Hanley Ramirez: Sometimes you play hard but don't have the luck. If you play hard and run the bases hard, that's all you can do. So it's okay, but I'd rather win.
DL: What do you like to do off the field?
Hanley Ramirez: I like to read, but mostly I just love to watch baseball. Other guys ask me, "Why do you watch when we already spend so much time on the field?" I tell them, "It's my life. Baseball is my life".
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