Marlins' Hanley Ramirez could be odd man out in World Baseball Classic
LAS VEGAS -- No shortstop had a better offensive season in 2008 than the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez, who hit .301 with 33 homers, 125 runs scored and 35 stolen bases. And since he joined the Marlins in 2006, he's scored more runs -- 369 -- than any player in baseball.
You'd think, with numbers like that, he'd be a cinch for any All-Star team. Yet there may be no room for him on the Dominican Republic's roster for the World Baseball Classic next March.
"He's got to make the team. said Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez in jest.* "Where is he going to play?" Gonzalez would just as soon have Ramirez with him during spring training.
With New York-born Yankee Alex Rodriguez promising to play for the Dominican, his parents' homeland, Dominican manager Felipe Alou finds himself with an infield full of All-Stars.
"The way it looks right now, I also have Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, [Robinson] Cano, [Placido] Polanco and [Albert] Pujols," the former big-league manager said. "It's not only at shortstop.
"I like that problem. I've never had it before."
Not mentioned were All-Star shortstops Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers, Miguel Tejada of Houston and Jose Reyes of the Mets. Reyes figures to split playing time with Ramirez -- if, as Gonzalez said, he makes the team.
"What I believe is going to happen is the best Dominican player will participate in this tournament at every position," Alou said. "If I had to play Reyes one game and play Ramirez the next day, I will. ...
"I believe we are going to have a tremendous team given the interest that has been shown by the Dominican players. I will give everybody an opportunity to represent their country well."
-- Kevin Baxter
* Changed to clarify tone of the quote at 9:43 p.m.
Photo: Hanley Ramirez throws to first in a game against the New York Mets in September. Credit: Ed Betz / Associated Press