GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) –– Hanley Ramirez arrived Wednesday at the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spring camp with his injuries healed, yet still feeling disappointed with the way last season ended with a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
“Yeah, even right now,” Ramirez said. “But what are you going to do? Now, it’s just time to get ready. It’s 2014 now. I think I’m with a group of guys that want to win and go through the whole situation again.”
But it’s a situation that Ramirez hopes will include a different ending.
“A championship,” the shortstop said. “That’s the one goal.”
The World Series eluded the Dodgers last year after Ramirez suffered a rib fracture when he was struck by a fastball from Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly in Game 1. He attempted to play with the injury but was never a factor throughout the rest of the series, which the Cardinals won in six games.
His importance to the Dodgers offense was never more apparent than in their National League Division Series victory over the Atlanta Braves. He had eight hits in 16 at-bats. He tied a Dodgers postseason record with six hits for extra bases.
“If Hanley had been healthy, it would have changed everything,” said Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who also reported Wednesday. “It was one of the keys to us losing the series.”
Ramirez arrived in camp one day before the Dodgers reporting date amid speculation about his contract. He is entering the final year of his deal. He did not want to talk about a possible extension.
“That will take care of itself,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it right now. I want to be a Dodger for life. I just want to keep winning. That’s what we get paid for.”
Potential free agency makes it even more important for Ramirez to stay healthy, said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
“It’s a big year for Hanley,” Mattingly said. “It’s his last year. He’s going to want to stay out on the field.”
The 30-year-old Ramirez began last season sidelined with a thumb injury suffered while playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He joined the lineup on April 29 but suffered a hamstring injury after just his third game. Without him, the Dodgers stumbled out of the gate, falling into last place in the NL West.
After he got back, he and rookie Yasiel Puig helped ignite a 46-10 run from mid-June to mid-August. The Dodgers went from last to first. In 86 games, Ramirez hit .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Ramirez said he spent the offseason healing, undergoing treatment on his back. It is believed a nerve in the back caused the hamstring injury.
Mattingly said the Dodgers will monitor Ramirez’s conditioning and make sure he gets enough rest.
“He’s not ancient, but he’s not 20 anymore,” Mattingly said. “We’ll break it up a little more. With Hanley, we’ll take whatever we can get. We want to keep him healthy.”
Note: Matt Kemp is in camp, but with no timetable for a comeback from an ankle injury. “There’s no true schedule until the ankle is healed,” Mattingly said.