WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hanley Ramirez‘s right shoulder injury has cleared to the point where he is in the early stages of a throwing program, but there’s no word on when he will be able to play first base. The right-handed-hitting slugger continues to get at-bats at designated hitter, and he was slotted third in the lineup on Monday against the Astros. Houston and Boston tied, 5-5, and Ramirez went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
“His throwing right now is abbreviated — it’s out to 60 feet,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Hopefully there’s incremental progress here. We’re a month away, so we still feel like there’s ample time to get him to where he’s defensively capable at first base. Nothing suggests right now that there’s a plateau of his progress. The treatment, the strengthening, that continues to show increases, and hopefully the throwing will soon follow.”
There is less of a concern this season about Ramirez’s ability to play defense, because his primary position will be DH. But Farrell is planning on a platoon with Mitch Moreland, in which Ramirez is targeted to play first against left-handers.
“That’s the approach right now,” said Farrell. “You’re probably on average going to get 70, 75 percent right-handed starters throwing against you, that would be a rough estimate. The remainder, the 40 games at first base, is probably a pretty good gauge or estimate, assuming nothing takes place with Mitch and any kind of injury.”
• Right-hander Carson Smith, less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, will throw off a mound at some point this week. If Smith can return to the Red Sox by midseason, he could serve as a significant addition to the bullpen. Smith was a force as a setup man for the Mariners in 2015, which led to the Red Sox acquiring him for Wade Miley after that season.