What manager Don Mattingly wants to see from Marlins rookie Harold Ramirez
Harold Ramirez wasn’t exactly prepared for his first career home run. The outfielder hit one of his typical opposite-field line drives in the top of the fourth inning of the Miami Marlins’ eventual 5-4 win against the Detroit Tigers, only this one kept carrying until it flew over the right-field fence at Comerica Park.
When the ball rocketed off his bat, Ramirez figured it would hit off the wall. The moment he realized what happened was surreal.
“I felt like I was floating around the bases,” Ramirez said. “It was very exciting. When I hit the ball, I didn’t know if that was was gone, but it feels so good.”
The run was critical — the Marlins (14-31) blew a 4-2 lead to the Tigers (18-27) in the ninth inning before regrouping to win in the 11th — and everything surrounding it made the moment particularly memorable.
Ramirez arrived in the visitors’ dugout to find everyone ignoring him. The silent treatment is a common tradition for teams to joke around with a rookie when he hits his first career homer, so Ramirez improvised a solo celebration in Detroit.
“When I went to the dugout, I didn’t see anybody stand up,” Ramirez said. “I just said I’m going to enjoy it by myself.”
The rookie was also fortunate to get his first home run ball back after the game. A 13-year-old from Detroit caught the ball and Miami quickly negotiated a trade with the fan.
After the game, Ramirez got another first. To get the ball from the fan, Ramirez had to sign a bat for the teenager — his first career autograph.
Ramirez said he plans to give the ball to his mother. The Marlins hope this will just be the first of many for the righty. Ramirez was a productive hitter at every level of the minors before he was called up May 11 and has been a fixture in Miami’s outfield since his promotion. He made his first career start in center field Tuesday and Don Mattingly said it could be a regular occurrence for a little while with Rosell Herrera as the only player on the MLB roster with significant experience in center this season.
Ramirez’s bat has the potential to spark a struggling offense, though. It did Tuesday, so Miami is eager to find him opportunities.
“Harold is swinging the bat and I think a guy that’s hit is showing signs of it,” Ramirez said. “We’ll see as it progresses if teams make adjustments to what he does and then we’ll keep going.”