Hanley Ramirez arrived at Marlins Spring Training camp this week and told the media that he is finally ready to grow into the clubhouse leader the Marlins' front office has envisioned.
"I'm going to put us on my back and go all the way to the end, go hard every day," he told the Sun-Sentinel on Monday.
Ramirez alluded to a game against Arizona last May in which he accidentally booted a bloop single into foul territory and leisurely jogged after it, allowing two runs to score on what should have been a routine play to prevent either runner to attempt to score. Ramirez was removed from the game by then-manager Fredi Gonzalez, whom Ramirez criticized after the game when talking to reporters.
Hanley was eviscerated by the media and fans afterward, being called a quitter and a clubhouse cancer, both stigmas which he hopes to shake off in 2011. Hence, the "ready to lead" promise.
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez echoed H2R's sentiments, saying "I'm very confident that he's going to be capable" of providing the team with strong leadership skills. Last month, he told the Miami Herald, "Everyone will be very surprised with the new Hanley and his whole makeup," alluding to his perceived leadership deficit.
But Marlins fans should recall that we have seen this song and dance with Ramirez before. Teammate Wes Helms told the Miami Herald in March 2010, "I have told Hanley 100 times, 'You have to lead this team,'" adding, "he looks like a guy that wants to. I'm proud of him."
Ramirez certainly said all the right things last year, too, telling the Herald, "Everything I do, everybody is looking at me. It makes me do everything the right way." That was only a few months before the debacle against Arizona.
As with all Spring Training pronouncements, take Hanley's comments with multiple grains of salt. Once the games get started, all the Spring Training goodwill is effectively tossed out of the window.