When the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu to the Yankees in 2006, the outfielder arrived in New York with a reputation for moodiness. He chafed in the spotlight in Philadelphia, lashing out at what he thought were unfair expectations.
In three years with the Yankees, Abreu had an .843 OPS and was a cheerful clubhouse presence, somebody who got along well with the players, coaches, staff and media. At 32, Abreu was ready for a change and he clearly enjoyed being part of the group, not the player everybody else relied on.
There are parallels that can be drawn with Hanley Ramirez coming to the Red Sox.
Ramirez wore out his welcome with the Marlins and was temperamental during his time with the Dodgers. At 31, the Red Sox represented a fresh start and he has so far embraced that.
Ramirez has eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 19 games, a good reason to be happy. But he’s also proving he can be a positive influence in the clubhouse.
Earlier this month, Ramirez presented every teammate with a Beats by Dre gift bag that included two sets of high-end headphones. During spring training, he organized several fishing trips and invited outfielder coach Arnie Beyeler along for at least one of them.
Ramirez, who has long been close to David Ortiz, quickly recognized the importance of Dustin Pedroia in the Red Sox culture and forged a relationship with him.
How Ramirez reacts to a slump or the team struggling will be a true test of his attitude. But for now he is doing all the right things.
Ramirez is hitting .288 despite at least 10 outs that came on balls that were hit hard but caught. Even his groundballs have been rockets.
A few other notes and observations from the first few weeks of the season:
■ Orioles general manager Dan Duquette was the GM of the Red Sox when Ramirez was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He revealed that Ramirez was a switch hitter at the time.
“True story,” Ramirez said. “I had been switch hitting most of my life. But I didn’t have a lot of power hitting lefty. I switch hit in one game with the minors and had a single lefthanded. Then I gave it up.”
■ The Red Sox signed Koji Uehara to a two-year, $18 million deal in October. It would be a bad move to overreact to his decreased velocity in a few outings by pursuing the return of Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon has $11.3 million remaining on his contract for this season and a $13 million vesting option for 2016 that is easily obtainable. Even if the Phillies pick up half of his salary, the Red Sox would be responsible for a big chunk of money.
Uehara is averaging 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings through six appearances. That is better than the 12.2 he averaged in 2013. Uehara also believes his velocity will tick up as he throws more. He barely pitched in spring training because of a hamstring injury.
Even if Uehara fails, the Red Sox would be better off trying Junichi Tazawa, Alexi Ogando or even Matt Barnes as their closer than a second act from Papelbon.
■ John Farrell generally does what he should do in terms of game strategy. He sometimes leaves the starter in too long, but handles the bullpen well and doesn’t get in the team’s way offensively.
But his unwillingness to use late-inning defensive replacements in the outfield could be a problem.
Allen Craig should not have been in right field in the ninth inning on Saturday night in Baltimore. Brock Holt or Daniel Nava would have been better. Instead, Craig misplayed a single into a triple and that opened the door to Uehara losing the game.
Farrell also has made it clear that he won’t sub for Ramirez in left field late in games because he wants to show trust in him.
Ramirez is earnest in wanting to play left field well, but he’s not very good. Farrell’s faith is going to cost the Red Sox a game at some point.
■ Adam Wainwright’s torn Achilles’ tendon, which came when he was at the plate, has again raised calls for the National League to use a designated hitter.
Through Sunday, pitchers were 49 of 552 (.088). All that adds to the game is boredom. An easy way to increase offense in the game is to use the DH in the National League.
It also will make the game more balanced. The Red Sox, for instance, will play five games in August in National League parks. As the pennant race heats up, they will be forced to bench either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli.
National League teams are hurt, too. They use a bench player as DH and hit him eighth or ninth in an interleague game while the other team could have a player like Ortiz or Victor Martinez.
The DH is used in virtually every high school, summer league, and college game. In the minors, pitchers hit only when two National League affiliates meet.
When Brandon Workman batted in the 2013 World Series, it was his first at-bat since high school. It’s just silly to play the World Series under two sets of rules. Double switches aren’t fun, home runs are.
■ Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Ortiz for one game for making contact with an umpire. Ortiz immediately appealed and played the next five games.
That’s fine; most players appeal their suspensions. The problem is what happened on Sunday. Ortiz was out of the lineup against the Orioles for a rest. He should have dropped the appeal and served the suspension that day. But the appeal is moving forward and now, if it’s rejected, MLB will decide when Ortiz sits.
Ortiz generally gets to do what he wants and that perk has been earned by his experience and accomplishments. But this is one case where he should have listened to reason.
■ When teams go on the road, there’s an office for the manager in the visitors’ clubhouse. Most of them are pretty boring. There’s a desk, a locker and usually a small refrigerator. At Tropicana Field, visitors’ clubhouse manager Guy Gallagher put up photos of every manager who will use the office his season. But instead of headshots, they are photos of the managers arguing with umpires.
■ When the Sox were at the Trop last week, drumming could be heard coming from a room next to the clubhouse. It wasn’t quite Max Weinberg but it was pretty good. It turns out Evan Longoria has a drum kit set up and sometimes before games will play for a little while.
■ Through 15 games and 64 at-bats for Single A Salem, outfielder Manuel Margot has yet to strike out. The 20-year-old is hitting .365 with a .977 OPS. Going back to last season, he has 82 plate appearances without a strikeout.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.