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Hanley Ramirez is green in left field, but learning

Converted shortstop Hanley Ramirez is getting used to the faux Green Monster at JetBlue Park before he encounters the real thing.Kelli Krebs for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a healthy player is allowed to report to spring training 33 days before the start of the season.

Position players are expected to arrive at Red Sox camp on Feb. 24, but that’s only a friendly suggestion. Hanley Ramirez would be well within his rights to show up on March 4.

But when the Red Sox signed Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million contract in November, it was with the understanding that he would move from shortstop to left field and arrive early to spring training to start working at his new position.


It was a gentleman’s agreement and Ramirez kept his word. He showed up in Fort Myers on Wednesday and by Friday had ventured out to left field inside JetBlue Park to take balls off the copycat Green Monster.

“We talked about the importance of his getting here early and he was agreeable to that from the start,” manager John Farrell said. “His attitude has been fantastic.”

That couldn’t always be said of Ramirez during his years with the Marlins and Dodgers. But being back with the organization that first signed him out of the Dominican Republic has given Ramirez a new perspective.

“I’m here to work on some little things and get better every day. I’m happy to be here early,” he said.

Getting to camp well ahead of schedule, while not necessarily a prerequisite for the Red Sox, was meaningful. The team felt Ramirez could adjust to left field if given time.

Ramirez said this was “definitely” the earliest he had arrived at spring training.

“At the end, it’s going to pay off,” he said. “We’ve just to keep working every day and get here early. We’re doing a pretty good job. I belong here. I’m happy to be here.


“They were on the same page. I was grinding to get back here and play in front of the fans that saw me grow up but didn’t have a chance to see me play in the big leagues. Anything it takes to go back to Boston.”

First base coach Arnie Beyeler, who doubles as the team’s outfield instructor, first met Ramirez in 2002. Now they will be working together almost every day for seven weeks to get ready for the season.

It’s going to be a gradual buildup to games, Beyeler explained. On Friday, Ramirez was one of five outfielders working with Beyeler after batting practice, racing to catch balls hit over their head. Then Ramirez and Bryce Brentz went out to the main field and took 10 balls each off the wall.

For now, Beyeler is more concerned with technique than speed.

“Everything he’s telling me, I get it right away,” Ramirez said.

Beyeler helped guide Brock Holt and Mookie Betts from the infield to the outfield last season. Ramirez, he said, has the athletic ability and knowledge to handle the position.

“He knows the footwork and he knows the game. We’ll need to work on throws and just get repetition,” Beyeler said. “It will happen over time. I’m happy with how everything is going.”

Ramirez has missed an average of 46 games over the last four seasons because of various injuries. He broke a rib in a 2013 playoff game when he was hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly, then of the Cardinals and now a Red Sox teammate.


The fracture took two months to heal and Ramirez did not have much of an offseason conditioning program as a result. That led to injuries during the 2014 season. But Ramirez said he had a productive offseason that included outfield work last month. Because he’ll be running more, that was part of his focus.

“I feel better and I feel stronger,” Ramirez said. “My body feels different.”

Ramirez has started to get to know teammates but is eager to see one of his mentors, David Ortiz. Big Papi usually shows up right on the report date.

Does Ramirez have any idea when Ortiz will show up?

“Who knows?” he said with a laugh.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.