Preserving Hanley on bases

The days of Hanley Ramirez swiping 40 to 50 bases a season may be over.

Not that you rule out anything regarding Ramirez, one of the most gifted athletes in the game. But the 26-year-old is now entrenched as a No. 3 hitter, and his body is bigger and stronger than his first few big league seasons.

Ramirez has two stolen bases this season, and he’s been caught twice. He swiped a bag on Opening Day, and added his last one on April 17 at Philadelphia.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would rather Ramirez win another batting title and again drive in 100 runs rather than steal more bases.

Since his third season, Ramirez has seen a decline in his steals. He swiped 51 in each of his first two years. Then in 2008, he had 35. All those came when he was primarily a leadoff batter.

Ramirez slid to No. 3 in the order a year ago, and had 27.

“I’m not going to say no, but it’s probably less likely that he won’t get back to the 50s,” Gonzalez said.

A more realistic number could be 25 to 30.

The Marlins would prefer Ramirez steal less bases, and stay healthy. Ramirez has dealt with some hamstring issues, and he is preserving himself.  

“That takes a toll on the body,” Gonzalez said. “He’s not built for that any more.”

— Joe Frisaro


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