Hanley Ramirez wants to lead by David Ortiz’ example – Boston Herald

FORT MYERS — Wearing a No. 34 David Ortiz t-shirt, Hanley Ramirez strolled into the Red Sox clubhouse on Thursday morning and took his place at Ortiz’s old locker, which now belongs to Ramirez.

“He told me he talked to the clubhouse guys because he wants me so bad to be a leader and be what he was to that clubhouse,” Ramirez said at a press conference later in the morning.

During the press conference, Ramirez referred to Ortiz as “my man,” “my big brother that I don’t have” and “my everything.”

With Ortiz retired, there are two directions in which Ramirez could head. The disastrous scenario is he becomes lazy and lost without his “big brother” around. The more optimistic one is that he shines in the role Ortiz has carved out for him and becomes the dominant hitter that former general manager Ben Cherington always believed he’d be.

Many who have spent time around Ramirez have said it: He wants to be just like Ortiz.

And Ortiz has been trying to teach him how.

“I can’t jump that high,” Ramirez said. “The good thing is that I’m going to try, though. If you want to follow somebody, that’s the guy, what he’s been able to do, just on the field with his teammates, around the city, everywhere he goes. You want to keep that rolling.

“The difference between me and David is David, he can talk. I don’t like to talk a lot. I’m more quiet, but if I’ve got to say something, I say it. David always finds a way to get to know you, to talk to you. That’s a good thing. I learned that from him, and that’s one of the things I’m going to try to do this year, too.”

Ramirez said he and Ortiz have been talking all offseason.

“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this,” Ramirez said. “But he told me the other night, that — uh, David, I’m sorry, man, but I’ve got to say it — if he tried to come back, I’m one of the reasons he might come back because we miss each other so much. I know that’s not going to happen, but he told me that.

“He’s still my man. I’m still waiting for him to walk into that clubhouse with that big smile, hugging everybody, showing that energy around everybody. I’m still talking to him every day, every day, and he’s still the same guy, always joking around, thinking that he’s like 23 when he’s not. But that’s the good thing about him — he’s always happy, and he makes everybody around him happy.”

If Ortiz comes back, Ramirez joked, he’d leave his post as the DH and, “I’ll go back to left field.”

The joke landed. Ramirez got his laughs. And while he also said that Ortiz told him his body is no longer hurting, but at 41 years old his mind is out of baseball, Ramirez made it clear that he did not expect Ortiz to jump out of retirement.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen, so you’ve got to deal with that,” Ramirez said.

Then he looked into the camera.

“David’s not coming back,” he said. “He’s home with his family, all right? All right? You got that, Sox Nation? We’re going to have to do it.”

When he filled in for Ortiz at DH last season, Ramirez hit .364 with four homers and 16 RBI in 11 games. Going into the tunnel between at-bats to watch video, Ramirez felt like he had an advantage that other hitters couldn’t get.

But Ortiz warned him about the downside of being a DH.

“Do you really want to know what he told me?” Ramirez said. “He said, ‘Someday you’re going to get crazy because all you can do is hit and when things are not going good, what can you do? You just go out there and try not to think about it until your next at-bat.’

“Honestly, he told me, ‘At first it’s going to be a little hard because when you can play defense you can help the team in two ways.’ But DH it’s pretty much just offense so I’ve just got to find a way to separate between those at-bats and cheer from the dugout.”

Ramirez feels up for the challenge. He’s been eyeing this role for some time. Even in 2015, some in the organization believed all Ramirez wanted to do was hit.

Now Ramirez will get that chance, serving as the team’s designated hitter against right-handed pitchers while likely filling at first base against lefties.

“I think David, what we did last year was really, really, really nice, but we don’t have the championship,” Ramirez said. “We’re here to win championships and we still have that bad taste in our throat. This year we’re going to go harder even more. Because we want to get the job done. David he left everything here. We’re just going to keep grinding and let everybody know David was a winner, great teammate who kept everybody together and we’re going to do the same thing.”


Follow Boston Herald Red Sox beat writer @JMastrodonato on Twitter. He can be reached by email at jason.mastrodonato@bostonherald.com.

Hanley Ramirez wants to lead by David Ortiz’ example – Boston Herald

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