Hanley Ramirez returned to play shortstop for the Dodgers on Tuesday night after much hype and build up before he announced via his Twitter account that he was being activated and ready to play ahead of schedule. He pinch-hit during that disaster of a game on Monday evening and struck out in his first at-bat of the season. His first start was coincidently on his very own bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium. How can one miss his own bobblehead night? Hanley tweeted out the lineup, and he even answered some questions on the @Dodgers Twitter account before game time.
Apr 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (13) is welcomed back to the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Colorado Rockies in the third inning during the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Hanley adorned himself with a rosary necklace which lay on top of his unbuttoned jersey. In his first at-bat on Tuesday evening, Hanley grounded out but moved his runners over. In the bottom of the third, Hanley showed everyone that his hand is just fine when it comes to holding his bat. Hanley hammered a solo homerun off the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa and caused the crowd to explode. Hanley is back! His smiling face and I See You celebratory signage engages fans both at the ballpark and at home watching on television. It’s just the shtick that the Dodgers desperately need right now.
A .500 April is not the desired results which were expected of this team. The Dodgers were picked by many to win the National League West after offseason spending raised the payroll to the MLB’s highest and raised the expectations of this team beyond winning just one season. A Whole New Blue was supposed to be centered around the traditions of Dodger baseball, the promise to invest in top tier talent, and the propensity to listen to and interact with the fans in order to create the best experience possible at Dodger Stadium. One of the first big moves the new ownership made was to acquire Hanley Ramirez from Miami. Hanley’s addition to this team was a key move, and his talent may be the catalyst which sparks this team to a winning season.
The Dodgers need a momentum shift. Hanley is definitely a shifter. Last season in his 63 games with the Dodgers after coming over from the Marlins, Hanley had a line of .271/.324/.450 with 10 homeruns, 44 RBIs, and 7 stolen bases. He finished the season with a combined total of 24 homeruns, 92 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. His innate talent is clearly evident when you see him play, and a whole year of Hanley will boost the productivity of this team immensely.
The fear is that Hanley Ramirez was rushed back too soon, and that he may reinjure his thumb. We saw that happen to Matt Kemp last season, and he ended up missing more time in order to nurse his hamstring after reinjuring it. Hanley is only a month removed from undergoing surgery on his thumb ligament, and here he is blasting homeruns at Dodger Stadium. It’s really quite amazing that he healed so fast, but it ultimately shows how his positive outlook and determination got him back to the game he loves sooner.
Hanley Ramirez is a star, and now that he is a Dodger he can shine bright for a city which has already accepted him with fanfare. The Dodgers may have had a tumultuous April, but the return of Hanley Ramirez could be the pivotal point in the season which could create momentum for the Dodgers. Winning is contagious. Matt Kemp is starting to come around, and if the Dodgers can overcome the multitude of injuries that has plagued them so far in 2013 they can still reach the postseason.
Hanley was once a batting champion, and there’s no reason why he can’t return to that form for the Dodgers. His talent now has a fresh venue in which to flourish. Los Angeles Sees You, Hanley!