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Ask Marlin Shortstop Hanley Ramorez: Once You Lose Your Swing, Tough Getting It Back

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Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez confident he can bust out of his season-long slump

Hanley Ramirez hits a solo home run during the first inning of the Florida Marlins' game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on May 11, 2011.
David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

Hanley Ramirez hits a solo home run during the first inning of the Florida Marlins’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on May 11, 2011.

Jerry Hairston caught stealing second base as Florida Marlins Hanley Ramirez tag him out during the fourth inning of Florida Marlins' against Washington Nationals at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, May 07, 2011.
Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Jerry Hairston caught stealing second base as Florida Marlins Hanley Ramirez tag him out during the fourth inning of Florida Marlins’ against Washington Nationals at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, May 07, 2011.

Hanley Ramirez acknowledges his fans after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of the Florida Marlins' game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on May 11, 2011.
David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

Hanley Ramirez acknowledges his fans after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of the Florida Marlins’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on May 11, 2011.

By JOE CAPOZZIPalm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 4:49 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2011

Posted: 3:12 p.m. Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, off to the worst start of his career, made a bold prediction before Wednesday’s game at Sun Life Stadium.

“By May 30, I will have seven homers. And I’ll be batting .290,’ he told a reporter. “You better take a picture. Write it down.’

Then he went out and hit his second home run and finished the night with his sixth multi-hit game of the season. That performance in a 5-3 loss to Philadelphia raised his batting average to .217.

That isn’t to say Ramirez is swinging the way he did two years ago when he hit .342 and won the batting title. But after hitting in eight of his last nine games, he has reason to be confident, especially since the Marlins are headed to two ballparks here he has hit well.

He is a career .359 hitter at Nationals Park, where the Marlins open a three-game series Friday against Washington. And he’s a .403 hitter at Citi Field, where the Marlins open a two-game series Monday against the Mets.

The thinking around the Marlins clubhouse: If Ramirez is going to snap out of his funk, this five-game trip offers his most promising chance of the season.

“I’ve never seen anything like this from a great hitter,’ said Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, a Marlins special assistant who has scrutinized Ramirez’s game since he was NL Rookie of the Year in 2006.

“You’re talking about a young player who’s very talented and just by being out there every day you (should be able to) walk into mistakes and capitalize off them. I can’t really explain other than the fact that it might be in your head now and you’re probably pressing little bit.’

No one on the Marlins is panicking – at least not publicly – over Ramirez’s slow start. After all, the team is 21-15, the second-best start in franchise history through 36 games (the 2008 team went 22-14 before finishing 84-77).

“His approach has been better. He’s swinging at more strikes. He’s trying to go back to the way he was swinging in 2009,’ hitting coach John Mallee said.

“It’s frustrating because he’s not batting like he’s capable, but if you look around the league, a lot of the stars are struggling.’

St. Louis’ Albert Pujols, a career .330 hitter, was batting .231 as recently as May 3 but has improved to .270. Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki has cooled off to .250 after a scorching April. Mets third baseman David Wright is hitting .234. But Ramirez’s slump stands out because he hit so well over his first 34 games in every other year – from .336 in 2006 to .354 in ’09 to .292 last year.

Among everyday shortstops this year, only San Francisco’s Miguel Tejada (.213) and Pittsburgh’s Ronny Cedeno (.212) are hitting worse than Ramirez. And among hitters with at least 125 plate appearances in the No. 3 slot, Ramirez is tied with Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez for last in the NL at .211.

“It’s not easy after you lost your swing to get it back. It’s kind of hard,’ said Ramirez, who was hitting a season-high .256 on April 14 and as low as .191 on May 2.

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Written by SportsPinhead

May 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

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