Hanley Ramirez is welcomed back to the dugout by Manager Don Mattingly after… (Harry How / Getty Images )
This is how supernova-hot Hanley Ramirez is: Adrian Gonzalez, tied for eighth in the National League with a team-high 64 RBI, said his job is to get on base for Ramirez.
“The way he’s been swinging the bat, you want to give him as many opportunities as possible,” he said.
Who can argue? For almost two months now, Hanley has been a man on fire, hitting the ball about as consistently hard as imaginable. He should come with a warning label: hot to the touch.
Ramirez has been the National League Rookie of the Year, he’s won a batting title and been a three-time All-Star. But he admits he has never hit the ball quite as well as he is right now.
“I’m healthy,” he said. “That’s the key.”
Manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez’s previous shoulder surgery was still an issue when the Dodgers first acquired the infielder in a trade one year ago. Then the start to his 2013 season was hampered when he injured his thumb in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, also requiring surgery.
He finally started his season April 29, played four games, then injured his hamstring and missed another month.
When he returned a second time, he scuffled some initially. But in his last 33 games he is batting .417 (55 for 132) with 10 home runs, 30 RBI and six stolen bases.
“He’s just a talent,” Mattingly said.
Over the last six weeks he’s been baseball’s hottest hitter. He is absolutely crushing baseballs. If he hit them any harder, you could hear them scream.
Ramirez credits health and joining the kind of talented team he never knew with the Miami Marlins, where he was the centerpiece of a perenially losing team.
“Being around these guys is unbelievable,” he said. “Since I got here after that trade, everything changed. Even in my life, everything. I think differently. I’ve got teammates supporting me and a lot on my side. That’s huge.”
Huge is what Ramirez has been to the Dodgers’ turnaround.