Once a potential afterthought for the Miami Marlins, Harold Ramirez has emerged as a possible starter on Opening Day.
There are eight days until the Miami Marlins play their first baseball game of the 2020 season.
It feels so good writing that. As the team comes together and manager Don Mattingly continues to put the finishing touches on the Opening Day roster, it’s evident there could be a few surprises to begin this race to the playoffs.
Based on what Mattingly has said the past few days, raving about prospects and how he has approached the second part of camp, there could also be a few changes in the opening day lineup.
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"“Harold Ramirez has gone from on the bubble to make the roster pre-pandemic to the player in position to play the most in right field, at least initially,” writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald."
Ramirez had a good season in his first year with the Marlins in 2019, batting.276 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI but was not one of the players who shined in the first part of Spring Training. He was even singled out by Mattingly at one point, where the skipper acknowledged that just because players were on the roster in 2019 did not mean they were guaranteed to remain in South Florida in 2020.
That might have been the curveball Ramirez needed to prove his manager wrong. And if his performance, as Jackson explained, took an upturn of late, then he could be starting in the outfield when the Miami Marlins travel to Philadelphia next week.
"“Several factors have brought Ramirez to this point: Matt Joyce’s continued absence for reasons he and the club have declined to explain, the addition of the designated hitter (which gives Don Mattingly another place to use Garrett Cooper) and Ramirez’s impressive work since the team re-convened for preseason workouts earlier this month,” Jackson adds."
The Marlins outfield competition has been a topic of excitement this offseason. The front office brought in Corey Dickerson from Philadelphia and added Jonathan Villar from Baltimore, who could play in centerfield and serve as the team’s starting DH. Because of the expanded roster, prospects Monte Harrison should make the squad and Jesus Sanchez has an outside chance at being part of the first 30.
Ramirez could also see time in the lineup as the DH. There is plenty of flexibility in how Mattingly wants to set his lineup on a day-to-day basis. And the skipper’s tone when talking about Ramirez has changed a bit when he talked to reporters about his performance on the diamond.
"“He’s a guy people don’t give as much credit to,” Mattingly said of the right-handed slugger. “He’s been working hard in the outfield to get better.”"