Hanley Ramirez began a minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Jupiter and could be back as soon as Tuesday against the Phillies. However, the more interesting news is where he might find himself in the lineup upon his return.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is considering using him out of the leadoff spot again.
“Let’s see where he is at,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t decided that yet. It could be first or it could be second.”
Asked directly if Rodriguez is thinking of batting Ramirez leadoff, the manager said: “Yes. Maybe not at first because we don’t know how his leg is going to hold up or his back.”
Ramirez was placed on the disabled list on May 30 with a strained left lower back, but has also dealt with pain in his upper left leg for most of the season. It would be unfair to count on him as a run producer right away, as he was batting just .210/.306/.309 with four home runs and 17 RBI before prior on the disabled list, but we probably can’t expect him to be the same dynamic leadoff hitter he used to be, either.
To be fair, Marlins’ leadoff hitters have combined to bat just .242/.311/.377 entering tonight’s action, so it wouldn’t take much for him to be an immediate upgrade.