Hanley Ramirez to leadoff again?

Hanley Ramirez's time as the number three hitter may be coming to a close .

...everything points to Hanley Ramirez returning to the leadoff spot.

Ramirez has had 53 at-bats since moving from the leadoff spot to No. 3 in the order, and all of his numbers have suffered. Batters in the No. 3 spot are supposed to drive in runs. In 53 at-bats, Ramirez has driven in only four runs.

When Ramirez singled in the sixth inning Sunday, he snapped an 0-for-10 slump during which he struck out five times. He batted .160 the past week, and his batting average has dropped 26 points during a nine-game stretch -- from .336 to .310. Ramirez was hitting .322 in the leadoff spot with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 115 at-bats before he was moved in the order. He clearly likes hitting in the leadoff spot.

The Marlins tried to make him a No. 3 hitter last season, and his numbers slipped. In 470 at-bats from the leadoff spot last year, he hit .345 with 40 doubles, 22 home runs and 61 RBI. He also scored 95 runs. In 165 at-bats from the third spot in the order last season, he hit a respectable .297 with six home runs and 18 RBI.


Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez often has said he likes Ramirez ''in any spot in the lineup,'' but he might be leaning toward moving him back to the leadoff spot because the Marlins have lost five of their past six games, and Gonzalez might want to try to shake things up a bit.

If Hanley is uncomfortable batting third and likes leading off better -- then lead him off.  Assuming you have the right guys in the lineup, batting order is overrated.

Ramirez will one day be a down the order hitter, and he will have to adjust.  That will probably come when he looses a step, but for now, there is no reason to put him in a spot where he is not comfortable hitting.  It is only hurting the team.

It is very possible that he is putting too much pressure on himself in the three-hole.  Fredi can juggle the lineup and find someone to hit third.  Come to think of it, Uggla might be a good choice for the rest of the month.  He's on fire.




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