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…For those who know Ramirez and have the opportunity to observe his work habits, nothing is more bothersome than allusions to him as a â€šÃ„Ãºhitting savantâ€šÃ„Ã¹ or a â€šÃ„Ãºnatural.â€šÃ„Ã¹ There is no disputing that he possesses a great deal of ability, but to infer that he is clueless and simply relies on his instincts is insulting. Ramirez is a tireless worker who works in nontraditional ways. He is usually the first player to report to the ballpark, often in the late morning for night games, and works out in the weight room or on cardio equipment when few others are around. Ramirez then heads home or back to the hotel, naps and returns in the early afternoon for baseball work.
Said Sox infielder Alex Cora [stats]: â€šÃ„ÃºMy brother (Joey) played with him in Cleveland in â€šÃ„Ã´98 and told me about him and how his work ethic was already above a lot of people, but when I got here (in July 2005), I found out for myself. We were on a road trip in Chicago and he said, â€šÃ„Ã²Hey, Alex, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ll see you at 10 (a.m.) tomorrow.â€šÃ„Ã´ I said, â€šÃ„Ã²You know itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a night game, right?â€šÃ„Ã´ Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s just how he is. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s there in the morning for a night game to work out.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Ramirez, who began working out with teammates Kevin Youkilis [stats] and Dustin Pedroia [stats] at Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona last offseason, is also famous for his visual exercises. One routine involves a mini Hula Hoop adorned with different colored baseballs. It is tossed in the air in front of him and Ramirez (often with one eyed covered) must grab the colored ball shouted out by a trainer. And prior to at-bats, when it appears that he is staring off into space or into the upper deck, Ramirez is simply looking up at a person or object in order to sharpen his focus before facing his first pitch.
â€šÃ„ÃºHe always has a plan and he sticks with it,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Red Sox [team stats] third baseman Mike Lowell said. â€šÃ„ÃºYou joke around with him and say, â€šÃ„Ã´What are you looking at, Manny?â€šÃ„Ã´, and he says, â€šÃ„Ã´Oh, no, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m just getting my focal point.â€šÃ„Ã´ If thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s what works for him, perfect.â€šÃ„Ã¹
In some visiting clubhouses, where back rooms and alcoves arenâ€šÃ„Ã´t available for video scouting, Ramirez can be seen poring over videos of the next dayâ€šÃ„Ã´s starting pitcher and his recent at-bats, often deftly working two laptops.
â€šÃ„ÃºYou donâ€šÃ„Ã´t see what he does every day (although) you hear about his routine, getting up early, getting to the park early,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Thome said. â€šÃ„ÃºOne thing that always impressed me about him was that he always was relaxed. He played the game tension-free as a hitter, and thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s the gift he has.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Lowell admitted that he was surprised to discover how hard of a worker Ramirez is when he came to the Sox after the 2005 season.
â€šÃ„ÃºI thought he was a little more aloof, just because of what you read about him,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he said. â€šÃ„ÃºWhen I was traded over here, I was curious and actually pleasantly surprised to find out what a hard worker and perfectionist he is. Even when heâ€šÃ„Ã´s going well, heâ€šÃ„Ã´s trying things in the cage to really lock himself in. I feel like telling him, â€šÃ„Ã´Hey, Manny, youâ€šÃ„Ã´re already locked in!â€šÃ„Ã´ Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s on a constant pursuit for what he feels is the right swing.â€šÃ„Ã¹…
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Jeff Horrigan – The Boston Herald
Copyright The Boston Herald