MIAMI (AP) — Three hours before game time, Hanley Ramirez entered the Miami Marlins’ ballpark, began looking for the visitors clubhouse and nearly walked into a stadium kitchen by mistake.
He had cleanup duty, but not there. Ramirez eventually found his way to his new team and was in the lineup against his old club Friday night, batting fourth for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He returned to Miami barely two weeks after being traded, and conceded he wasn’t thrilled to be playing a three-game series against the Marlins so soon.
“A little weird,” Ramirez said. “We couldn’t play three games in one day and get it over with.”
Ramirez was the NL Rookie of the Year with the Marlins in 2006 and had been the foundation of their lineup ever since. But they tore up that blueprint July 25, trading Ramirez along with left-handed reliever Randy Choate for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and a minor-league pitcher.
Ramirez departed without ever leading the Marlins to a playoff game.
“I couldn’t get it going my way,” he said. “Seven years, and we never could make it to the playoffs. But that’s in the past.”
Ramirez still has a home in South Florida and said he spent much of Friday with his wife, three children and parents. He looked forward to visiting with his former teammates.
“It’s good to see him back,” Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes said, “but I hope he doesn’t do too much damage against our team.”
Ramirez said he had no regrets about his stay with the Marlins. His attitude and effort came into question at times, and while he’s a .299 career hitter, his productivity has fallen off dramatically since the beginning of 2011.
In his first 14 games with the Dodgers, he batted .226 with one home run.
Ramirez said he was happy to be with a team contending for the NL West title. The Marlins are out of the playoff race, as was the case by August almost every year during Ramirez’s time with the team.
“We didn’t do the big one — a championship or the playoffs,” he said. “But there were a lot of good moments here. I played in front of this crowd for many years. They saw me from when I was a little baby to now, being a grown man and almost 30.
“The Marlins are always going to be part of my family. I have to thank them for a lot of things. They were good to me.”