It’s an annual rite of spring. Not the all-but-meaningless games, but the press conferences, where players, sometimes nervously, step up to the camera, take some questions and hopefully say the right things. This week, we’ve had two excellent examples already.
On Tuesday, Chris Sale, the newest ace, met the press for the first time as a member of the Red Sox and it is fair to say his performance was outstanding. Those concerned with Sale’s demeanor, particularly after last season’s Throwback-Gate in Chicago, found an amiable athlete who answered all questions with intelligence and good humor but who also admitted, “I’m a completely different person when I’m here and when I’m between the painted lines.”
Thursday is was Hanley Ramirez‘ turn and, for a guy who said he doesn’t like to talk much, he didn’t disappoint either.
No longer viewed by most as an albatross after a more than respectable 2016 campaign, Ramírez took questions, mostly about his role with the club, both on and off the field, following the retirement of Sox legend David Ortiz.
Follow the leader
Asked whether he could fill the void Big Papi has left, Ramirez quipped “I can’t jump that high,” before quickly turning back to the reporter who asked the question to add, “I’m going to try, though.”
It felt as though Ramírez would have been willing to talk about Ortiz all day, gushing about Papi’s importance to him personally and professionally. “David is my big brother that I don’t have,” Hanley said. And in what’s likely good news for Sox fans, David is staying in touch. “He’s on me 24/7 everyday, he’s texting me every minute!”
Unlike his mentor, though, Hanley admits that he doesn’t have exactly the same skills, particularly the same soft skills. “The difference between me and David? He can talk,” Hanley explained, “I don’t like to talk a lot, but if I got to say something, I’ll say it.”
Could Ramírez be the guy in the clubhouse other players could turn to for counsel and advice? Hanley intimated they almost don’t need that. Instead, he praised the work ethic of his teammates. “Everybody gets along here, everyone has a routine, everybody’s got a plan.” Even the youngest players drew kudos. “I was talking to a lot of people this year, in the off-season,” Ramírez said, “It’s unbelievable how good our young guys are.”
When the chips are down, though, you couldn’t help but feel as though Hanley understands responsibilities of being a genuine clubhouse leader. “I’m really going to try 100 percent,” Ramírez said, trying to be “even a half a percent” of what David Ortiz has been to this club.