MLB

Guillen sees Ramirez as centerpiece

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi recap Day 1 of the winter meetings in Dallas.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi recap Day 1 of the winter meetings in Dallas.
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Hanley Ramirez has a “strong preference” to stay at shortstop, according to a major league source. His new manager with the Marlins, Ozzie Guillen, knows it.

No matter.

Guillen, in an interview with FOXSports.com Monday night, gave an emphatic, impassioned case for Ramirez not just to remain with the team, but remain its centerpiece.

In fact, Guillen said just that to the Marlins’ new shortstop, Jose Reyes, when they spoke Sunday night after Reyes agreed to a six-year, $106 million free-agent contract.

“I talked to Reyes. I said, ‘Thank you for being a part of this, a piece of the puzzle. But the puzzle is about Hanley Ramirez,’” said Guillen, recalling the conversation.

“It’s like playing chess when you protect the king and queen. That’s what we’re doing. I just want Hanley to understand that.”

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria dismissed the idea that the Marlins would trade Ramirez, an idea that has baseball people buzzing at the winter meetings because of Ramirez’s perceived unhappiness with moving to third base.

“We’re building a team,” Loria said. “It’s not about trading. I know what I want to do.”

Guillen said he has not spoken with Ramirez since the Reyes agreement, but the two have talked several times since Guillen was named manager.

The message from Guillen to Ramirez has been consistent: We want you. We see you as the team’s franchise player, no matter who we acquire.

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The Marlins met twice Monday with the agents for free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols and also have made offers to free-agent left-handers C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.

At one point Monday night, Guillen slapped his hands together and said, “Hanley Ramirez is my guy.” When asked about the potential of the Marlins trading Ramirez, Guillen seemed taken aback.

“No. Well. Wow,” Guillen said. “I can’t say no. But I’ve been with this team for a few months. That’s the last thing we think about.

“I’m not saying yes or no. I’m not the GM. But right now, for Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez is the man. I don’t give a f--- who we bring in.”

Guillen said with Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio hitting in front of him, Ramirez “has a chance to be a badass, a chance to drive in 150 runs,” even be the league MVP.

As for the move from shortstop to third base, Guillen said it could keep Ramirez “fresh and strong.” Ramirez, though, is still relatively young — he turns 28 on Dec. 23. He has been quoted publicly as saying that he still sees himself as a shortstop.

While a source said that Ramirez will handle the matter with the club “professionally,” many in the game are skeptical that the relationship between the two will continue on an even keel.

But from Guillen to Loria, the Marlins are adamant that they do not want to trade Ramirez.

“The last thing we want to do is that,” Guillen said.

Tagged: Mets, Marlins, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez

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