Hanley Ramirez could probably fill his pool several times over with the amount of ink poured his way about moving to third to make room for Jose Reyes. It probably started when he loafed after a ball that dropped into shallow left field. What started as a kerfluffle quickly became a theme, then a meme. It escalated into a chorus of barking mad Yorkshire terriers at the sound of a doorbell, and last winter, finally stabilized as a Fact as Immutable as Holy Writ. Hanley is done. Hanley is lazy. Hanley is a head case.
Hanley can hear and Hanley can read. Hanley definitely heard the dressing-down he got from Fredi Gonzalez, and he could read the ink flowing into his pool. When Jeffrey Loria opened his checkbook and started stroking a check to Fred Wilpon, Hanley could read the writing on the wall. Despite the tabloid-level speculation about whether Hanley would act like a three-year-old that got told “no candy” in the grocery-store checkout aisle or like a thirteen-year-old getting her cell phone privileges suspended for a week, Hanley quietly went to work learning a new position. He’s been putting in extra hours, taking long bus rides to play ball, and generally acting like the mature journeyman that he is. Hard work trumps BBWA speculation, hands down.
Let’s take a look at what might be the real story about this season’s infield.
While Hanley has been looking like the Roger Dorn montage, the real excitement for this infield is up the middle. With Reyes’ fluidity and athleticism, and Omar Infante’s high-level defensive skills, Fish fans watching ESPN should see the keystone combo featured in the highlight reels on a regular basis this season. Anyone remember the frustration watching Dan Uggla boot the ball? In 2010, Dan booted 18. Last year, Omar racked up a total of eight E’s.
There have been some exciting keystone combinations over the years: Ozzie Smith/Tom Herr, German Mesa/Juan Padilla, Dave Concepcion/Joe Morgan, just to rattle off a few. Wouldn’t it be great if this turns out to be the first season of another legendary middle infield?