Until he crashed into the wall and the ball popped out of his glove, it was the best play Hanley Ramirez had made in left field for the Red Sox this season.
Now it is one he surely regrets. Ramirez left Monday night’s game with a sprained left shoulder that the Red Sox hope will not land him on the disabled list.
With two outs in the first inning, Ramirez ran hard for a ball Tampa Bay’s James Loney hit down the line. At a full sprint, Ramirez made the catch then went three more strides into the padded wall.
The ball flew out of his glove as Ramirez winced in pain. He left the game and for now is being listed as day-to-day.
“We’re hopeful over the next couple of days there’s some improvement,” manager John Farrell said. “There’s no clear-cut DL at this point.”
Ramirez was not made available to reporters but commented via Twitter.
“I promise, gonna try to be back as soon as I can,” he wrote. “A bit sore, but back soon. Hang in there #RedSoxNation, and thanks for all the prayers.”
Ramirez, who was signed to a four-year, $88 million deal before the season, is hitting .283 and leads the Red Sox with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. His loss, even for a short time, would be significant.
The 12-14 Red Sox, who lost, 5-1, to the Rays, have fallen into last place with losses in nine of their last 12 games. They’ve already lost catchers Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez to significant injuries.
“In the short run we’re going to miss [Ramirez],” Farrell said. “Hopefully this doesn’t turn into something more than at least the initial exam [indicates].”
The crowd at Fenway Park initially cheered as Ramirez made the catch then fell silent as he clutched his shoulder.
Ramirez fell to one knee as Farrell and head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson came out of the dugout. Teammates Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, and Pablo Sandoval also came over.
“That’s kind of scary,” Farrell said. “The ground that he can cover as he’s going full-tilt and the force that he’s going to create because of his size, yeah, it’s a scary moment.”
Bogaerts said Ramirez appeared to be in a lot of pain.
“You could see he was hurting,” the shortstop said.
Ramirez walked slowly off the field, his arm held close to his chest. He went directly to the clubhouse with David Ortiz, a close friend, following.
Ramirez has a history of problems with his left shoulder. He suffered a separated shoulder on Aug. 2, 2011, while trying to make a catch for the Florida Marlins and underwent surgery on Sept. 15.
Ramirez also had a torn labrum repaired after the 2007 season.
“Based on the exams and the images tonight, I don’t have anything that suggests that there’s a reoccurrence of an old injury,” Farrell said. “Over the coming days we’ll have a better read on how he can recover and we’re hopeful that he won’t miss significant time.”
From 2011-14, Ramirez missed an average of 46 games a season because of various injuries.
Allen Craig replaced Ramirez in the linuep. He was 1 for 4 and struck out twice.
The Sox have abundant outfield depth and could fill in for Ramirez with several players already on the roster. Minor leaguers Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo also are available.
But none would provide the presence Ramirez does batting cleanup.
“He’s Hanley Ramirez,” Betts said. “But we’ve got some guys on the bench who can play the game well as well.”