« Willingham out for at least another month | Main | Lineup »

Hanley gets a day off

Hanley Ramirez didn’t ask for it, but he was given the day off Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“He’s the manager. There’s nothing I can do about it,’’ said Ramirez. “It gives me a chance to relax, watch the game and cheer for the guys.

“He (Gonzalez) just said he was going to give me a day off today. Hopefully, not tomorrow,’’ he said. “I will go to the cage, take some (extra) batting practice and try to fix what I’ve been doing bad, and start (all over) tomorrow.

Ramirez’s batting average has dropped 34 points in the last 10 games. He is in a funk lately and has only one hit in his last 15 at-bats. He has struck out 10 times over that span.

Gonzalez said everything is just going wrong for Ramirez, and that he takes balls that are called strikes and swings at pitches that are balls.

“It seems like every pitch he takes on the borderline is a strike right now,’’ Gonzalez said.

“Yeah, that’s the way it is right now,’’ Ramirez said. “When you are hot those pitches are called balls. Right now everything is going bad for me. But we are winning and I’m happy for that. If I was doing bad and the team was doing bad, I would feel differently. But we’re still in first place, and that’s where everybody wants to be.

“Sometimes you just want to give him a breath of fresh air,’’ said Gonzalez, who told Ramirez after Tuesday’s game. “I told him to come in today and if he wants to take practice fine. I know he was in the video room working on some things with (hitting coach Jim Presley) looking at some videos and trying to make some adjustments.

“It’s no big deal,’’ he said. “It’s just one of those things in the course of a long season you may start pressing… and you take the fastball down the middle and start swinging at the curveball in the dirt.

Sometimes you just give him a little mental break, and usually that jumpstarts him the next day,’’ he said. “He said he wanted to play, but I said no, take a little breather. But he is fine.’’

“He struck out three times last night, and maybe he could have walked four times,’’ he said.

There has been speculation that Ramirez has been pressing since agreeing to a six-year $70 million deal, and there is also speculation that Ramirez is better in the leadoff spot. He was moved to the third spot in the order May 7. His numbers are much better in the leadoff spot, and Gonzalez is leaning more and more every day about moving him back to the leadoff spot.

Tuesday Gonzalez said he “wouldn’t rule it out,’’ and on Wednesday Gonzalez said “it’s 50-50 on whether he will move Ramirez back to the leadoff spot.