Hanley offers veteran presence, initiates meeting

Hanley offers veteran presence, initiates meeting

Hanley offers veteran presence, initiates meeting
MIAMI -- When it comes to addressing his teammates, Hanley Ramirez tends to be a man of few words.

But the way the Marlins have slumped in June prompted the 28-year-old third baseman to speak out on Saturday.

It was Ramirez who called for a players-only meeting after the Marlins lost, 7-1, to the Blue Jays at Marlins Park.

"We need that," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Leadership is not in the clubhouse, it's everywhere. I said when I got this job, the main man on this ballclub is Hanley Ramirez. I wish he can be a leader 162 games, every day. That would be nice to see. ... You lead by example."

The loss -- Miami's sixth straight -- dropped the club to 4-16 in June, and into last place in the National League East.

Asked on Sunday morning -- before the Marlins defeated the Jays, 9-0, to end the slide -- who called the meeting, Ramirez replied: "I did."

The seven-year veteran didn't elaborate on specifics of the meeting. But several players aired out their thoughts.

"It's our thing," Ramirez said. "It's for the players. We're going to keep this between ourselves."

Ramirez started the meeting, but there was a lot of involvement. John Buck, Carlos Zambrano and Greg Dobbs were among the veterans who also spoke up.

"I think it definitely showed some leadership and some of the things that needed to be said," said Buck, who called it the best team meeting he'd ever been involved with. "His timing was sincere. There was nothing premeditated about it, or for show. It was perfectly said at a time that we needed to hear it. And it happened and needed to be heard from that person. It was good."

It also was the first time in Ramirez's seven seasons with the Marlins that he's initiated a team meeting.

"I don't like to talk too much," he said. "I joke a little bit, but I don't like to speak. But sometimes you've got something [on your mind] and you want to say it."

Said young outfielder Logan Morrison: "He said he didn't like to do it, but we need it. It's not my job, it's not [Giancarlo] Stanton's job or position. He's our guy. He's got to do it for us. He stepped up and did a good job.

"For [English] being his second language, he's pretty good at it. He was right on with what he was saying, and Dobber cleaned it up. Any time those guys talk, we listen. It was good."

A three time All-Star shortstop in the past, Ramirez is a centerpiece on the Marlins. But like the rest of the team, he's lacked consistency this year. He is batting .258 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.

In June, though, he's batting .213 with three home runs and five RBIs.

"I'm still working," Ramirez said. "That's not me. I'm better than that. I'm not going to give up. I know what kind of player I am. I've got to find myself and start producing, every day."

Ramirez certainly isn't the only Miami player struggling. All phases of the team, hitting, pitching and defense have broken down.

"Every team in the big leagues is going to struggle," Ramirez said. "We're going through it right now. Some get out of it quick. Others, it takes a little bit longer. It's been too long for us. The talent we have here, it shouldn't be this long.

"We are trying to do too much. We're putting too much pressure on ourselves. When you're young, you want to do good, instead of going out there, relaxing and playing hard. You want to produce every at-bat, every pitch. You put too much pressure on yourself, your tendons get tight. I think that's what we're going through right now."

Saturday's loss was particularly tough because the team was tied at 1 entering the ninth inning. Josh Johnson pitched a strong game, giving up one run with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

But in the ninth inning, the Blue Jays scored six runs, blowing the game open.

"That's why we had a meeting yesterday," Ramirez said. "We spoke about that."

The team, Ramirez added, has to relax and stay together.

"The past is the past," the veteran third baseman said. "We've got to start today. It's been tough. You can't just keep adding losses to losses every day. Clear your mind and let's start today.

"Everybody is struggling, 25 guys. What do you expect when everybody is struggling? We've just got to battle. Like I say, it's 25 guys, it's not one guy. It's tough when you've got everybody struggling. But sometimes you've got a couple of guys [struggling] and other guys are doing very well. At the same time, we keep playing hard and we don't give up."