FORT MYERS, Fla. — If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic about the Red Sox moving Hanley Ramirez to first base, perhaps it’s a good omen that he’s using a glove donated to him by Mike Napoli.
In 2013, Napoli made the switch to first base and after working hard in spring training, he became an above-average defender. Now it’s Ramirez’s turn and he is confident it will work out.
“I feel comfortable,” he said after reporting to camp on Wednesday. “I’m really excited to be here.”
Ramirez arrived six days prior to the deadline for position players to report. He took batting practice and then fielded some throws at first base before taking ground balls for about five minutes. Ramirez is expected to start working with infield instructor Brian Butterfield on Thursday. It was Butterfield who tutored Napoli.
“He has the magic,” said Ramirez, a shortstop who moved to left field last season after the Red Sox signed him to a four-year, $88 million deal. He proved to be one of the worst defensive players in the game and in early May suffered a shoulder injury when he ran into a wall at Fenway Park chasing a fly ball.
After hitting for average and power in April, Ramirez tailed off quickly and ended the season with a .717 OPS and 19 home runs — the last on July 11.
“I’m really happy to be back in the infield,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez has been working out on a field near his home in Miami for several weeks with mental skills coach Laz Gutierrez, a former scout and minor league coach.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) February 17, 2016