Hanley Ramirez batting .385 since move to cleanup spot

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Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez showed up late to the clubhouse on interim manager Jack McKeon’s first day on the job. Thankfully, things have gone far better between coach and player since.

One of McKeon’s first acts as acting manager was giving Ramirez a consistent spot in the batting order. Under former skipper Edwin Rodriguez, Hanley would bat in a variety of spots — from leadoff, to second, to third, to fifth, and even sixth.

Ramirez is now the Marlins’ official cleanup man, and looking quite comfortable in the new role.

He finished 3-for-5 with a grand slam in Saturday’s defeat of the Rangers and has scored six runs in his past four starts. In 10 games since moving to the No. 4 spot in the lineup, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the 27-year-old shortstop is batting .385 with three home runs and 12 RBI.

Hanley is still sporting a weak .230/.319/.356 slash line in 271 total plate appearances, but he’s talented enough to right many of his early-season wrongs with a monstrous showing in the second half.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.