Aramis Ramirez will make his Pirates 2015 debut tonight against the Washington Nationals. Ramirez will be batting in the cleanup spot, sandwiched between Andrew McCutchen and Jung-Ho Kang. Starling Marte has been moved back to the second spot in the order, a position that Clint Hurdle believes will allow Marte to be even more effective with his rare combination of speed and power.
“I think it gives us a chance to get other guys back into positions where they can be more themselves. Marte has done a fantastic job at hitting fourth,” Hurdle said in his pre-game meeting with the press. “That being said, that’s not where we want to keep the kid any longer than we have to.”
Ramirez is a player who has plenty of experience batting in the fourth spot of the batting order — over 4,000 at bats and a career OPS of .846 — and has spent much of the last three years with the Brewers hitting cleanup.
Hurdle referenced his usage of Justin Morneau in the 2013 season as a possible guide to how the Pirates will utilize Ramirez moving forward. Ramirez is a reliable presence in the middle of the lineup and a player who will provide the Pirates with quality at bats and the ability to produce runs at a high level.
“I believe in the pedigree, in the swing. I believe in the run producing abilities,” Hurdle explained. “I believe in what I’ve seen in the last six weeks and what I’ve seen against us for a long time.”
There were questions as to whether or not the 37-year-old’s bat was finally beginning to decline. Ramirez was hitting a low .222 through June and had an OPS of only .674, both career-low paces. However, his bat has heated up in July, batting .352 with a .922 OPS. Ramirez said he couldn’t identify what has changed since his slow start.
“I don’t know, I can’t explain,” Ramirez said. “My whole career I’ve been a slow starter. The first month was kind of tough for me, I couldn’t pinpoint why.”
It will be interesting to see how the Pirates will divide playing time when Josh Harrison returns from injury, something they have not shared with Ramirez to this point.
“I don’t know, I’m going to show up to work everyday,” Ramirez said. “I don’t make the lineup. I’ve been an everyday player my whole career since I’ve come up. I’m here to help. [Harrison] is a pretty good player, hopefully he get well soon. I’m just another piece. I’m here to help. I’ll be ready to play when they put my name [on the lineup card].”