Hanley Ramirez to return Tuesday as Marlins’ leadoff man

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Hanley Ramirez batted second or third in the Marlins’ lineup for each of his 47 starts prior to landing on the disabled list with back problems, but Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that he’ll return from the DL tomorrow as Florida’s leadoff man.

Ramirez has been out since May 30 and the Marlins have dropped 13 of 16 games, falling to third place in the NL East at 32-32.

Prior to his being shut down with back pain so severe it kept Ramirez from being able to tie his shoes the Marlins were winning despite his hitting just .210 with four homers and a .615 OPS that’s 275 points below his career norm.

Ramirez told Spencer that his back “is better now” and explained that he’d be fine leading off, saying: “I love it. Anything for the team. It doesn’t matter. I’ll be 9, 8, 7, I just want to be out there.” About half of his career starts have come in the leadoff spot, where Ramirez has hit .311 with a .925 OPS while scoring 333 runs in 400 games.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.