Reporting Tim Kephart
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JUPITER, Fla. – Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez is finally healthy this spring and that is bad news for opposing pitchers.
Ramirez hit his second home run of the spring and Ricky Nolasco pitched five solid innings, but the split-squad Marlins team still came up short against the Minnesota Twins Saturday, 5-2.
The Marlins were down 1-0 when Ramirez took Carl Pavano deep to left-center field with two outs down in the fifth inning.
“I feel great,” Ramirez said. “It’s way different than last year. Everybody knows I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Ramirez also drew two intentional walks on the day and is hitting a healthy .474 thus far in the spring after struggling at .243 last season. Ramirez only played 92 games last year while battling several injuries. He eventually had surgery on his left shoulder in September.
“He had a rough year last year, but everybody knows how good he is,” Nolasco said. “He showed he was one of the best players in the league for five years.”
Ramirez’s antics in the past have drawn the scorn of teammates, on-field managers, and the front office staff. But so far this spring, Ramirez has been the model of consistency all while switching from shortstop to third base to make room for Jose Reyes.
“Every day I am getting more comfortable,” Ramirez said of the new position.
Early word out of Marlins camp is that both Ramirez and Reyes are starting to bond, which will be key as the Marlins look to move past a tough Braves team and the up and coming Washington Nationals. The entire NL East has Philadelphia in their sights after Philly dominated in 2011.
The only way the Marlins can get to the postseason will be for Ramirez to find his old form and keeping Reyes healthy. If both happen for an entire season, the sky may be the limit for the new-look Miami Marlins as they break in the new Marlins Park.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)