Will Hanley Ramirez make the Indians' final roster?

Will the 35-year-old prove he belongs?

James Rapien
March 18, 2019 - 1:08 am
Mar 13, 2019; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Hanley Ramirez (13) hits a two RBI single against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians signed Hanley Ramirez with the hope that he could bring power to the middle of their lineup.

The three-time All-Star had plenty to prove and was confident he would do enough to make the Indians’ final roster.

Ramirez has posted a .240 batting average in 25 plate appearances this spring. He’s played in 10 games since joining the club. The Indians have to make some tough decisions before the regular season starts and Ramirez’s future has to be near the top of that list.

“We’ve even tried to call in a couple of our scouts to watch because it’s so hard to get a read on guys,” manager Terry Francona said. “They might be facing No. 89 (a minor league pitcher) in one at-bat. It’s just really hard.”

The Indians would love for Ramirez to make their decision an easy one. He’s shown power at times, but has yet to hit a home run.

Francona isn’t going to base anything off of Ramirez’s batting average. He’s said multiple times that bat speed is a huge factor. How the veteran responds to playing on back-to-back days is crucial as well.

The Indians want this experiment to work. They eased Ramirez into things when he joined the team. They’re hoping he can provide much-needed power to the heart of the lineup.

All indications point to Ramirez doing everything that’s been asked of him. Francona knew it would take time for the veteran to get back into the swing of things.

It’ll be interesting to see how they juggle Ramirez and veteran Carlos Gonzalez, who they reportedly agreed to terms with on Saturday. If Gonzalez shows he can play in the outfield, then Ramirez could be expendable. ‘CarGo’ will likely start the season in the minors, since the regular season is less than two weeks away.

If the Indians move on from Ramirez, then Carlos Santana would likely be the everyday designated hitter, youngster Jake Bauers would play first base, which is his natural position and ‘CarGo’ could be a corner outfielder.

Bauers’ development should play a role in the Ramirez decision. Is it worth changing the role of a 23-year-old, who projects to be a solid defensive first baseman, just to get a veteran like Ramirez into the everyday lineup? The Indians have experimented with Bauers in left field this spring.

Ramirez has to be feeling the pressure. If he doesn’t make this club, then he’ll probably have to play in the minor leagues, whether it’s in the Indians’ system or elsewhere, in hopes of making it on a roster later in the season.

“It’s so hard,” said Francona. “He has bat speed. I really believe that.”