Rays fans are already booing Manny Ramirez


Tampa Bay is 0-4, Manny Ramirez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts yesterday to make him 1-for-16 on the season, and Rays fans are already booing the 39-year-old designated hitter.

Manager Joe Maddon described the situation as “very unfair” while adding that the fans should know “this man really cares” and “the last thing I want him to do is feel like he has to carry us.”

B.J. Upton called the booing “unbelievable” and went on to say:

Here’s a man who has had an unbelievable career. This game is not easy. His start obviously hasn’t been what people wanted it to be. But if everybody could do it, everybody in America would be playing right now. They’re not and he’s done it for 16 years. So that bothered me a little bit. Because I think if you’re a true baseball fan, you know what type of player he is and the type of damage he can do. It’s way too long of a season to be booing somebody right now. That I do not understand, not one bit.

I tend to agree. Ramirez is certainly a flawed person, but for a new fan base to boo him four games into his time with the team seems absurd, particularly since he was a shrewd free agent signing for just $2 million in guaranteed money and is crucial to the Rays’ success this season.

Boo him if he fails to hustle or disrespects Maddon or shows up late for a game, but for a bad first week at a new job? What purpose does that serve, exactly?

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.