03/26/08 4:46 PM EST
Marlins don't want Hanley to risk injury
Club wants shortstop to focus on power rather than speed
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
As his career progresses, manager Fredi Gonzalez ideally would like to see Ramirez steal less and hit for more power.
The speedy Ramirez swiped 51 bases in each of his first two seasons. This year, he may well end up reaching that number again. But in a perfect world, Gonzalez prefers the talented shortstop to gradually reduce that number.
Asked if Ramirez was primed for another 50 stolen base season, Gonzalez said: "I hope not. The reason being, the more your body gets banged up -- the wear and tear. He's a guy who hits .300, he hits you 30 [home runs], and has a chance to drive in a lot of runs. I'm scared, because the more you attempt to steal, even if you don't steal, you're diving back to first base. You're getting beaten up pretty good.
"He can handle it now, being as young as he is. Hopefully, the home runs go up and the stolen bases go down."
Rather than see Ramirez risk injury stealing bases, Gonzalez enjoys watching his shortstop sprinting from first-to-third, or first-to-home on hits.
"We'll see," Gonzalez said. "If he has a chance to steal 50, as long as he's not beaten up, we'll see."
Hitting leadoff, Ramirez has the green light to steal, but the team has instructed him to hold as well.
"There are times that we've shut him down, depending on the series," Gonzalez said. "Some teams have three or four guys who control the running game."
Ramirez flashed his speed in the fifth inning, swiping second base. But he hit the base hard, and as a precaution he was removed for a pinch-runner.
"It was Hanley being Hanley," Gonzalez said. "If I don't put him in the lineup tomorrow, he will be in my office at seven o'clock wondering why he isn't playing."
Overall, the Marlins have a lineup not built around speed. It is a vast difference from a few years ago when Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo were at the top of the order.
A year ago, the Marlins had 105 total stolen bases, the 11th most in the Major Leagues.
The franchise record for steals in a season is 177 set in 2002. The 2003 World Series squad had 150 stolen bases.
Second on the club to Ramirez a year ago was Alfredo Amezaga, who swiped 13.
Gonzalez said if Amezaga plays more this year, he could reach 20. Alejandro De Aza is another candidate to steal. But that's about it in the lineup.
"The way we're built, the way we're set up, other than Alfredo and Hanley, and De Aza, other than them, we don't have that threat," Gonzalez said. "I like the speed, because that comes to the ballpark every day. I like the hit-and-run. But the three-run homer doesn't come to the ballpark every day. It's the way we're built right now."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.