Jack McKeon's first move as interim manager was to fill out the lineup card on Monday. Noticeably absent: Shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
The reason? Well, it depends who you ask. A team source said Ramirez's name was in the original starting lineup. But when Ramirez showed up late for McKeon's first team meeting, the lineup was pulled along with Ramirez's name according to the source.
Asked before the game why Ramirez wasn't in the lineup, McKeon said he just didn't like the way the three-time All-Star "ran the bases [in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Rays]."
"I don't know [if he's hurt]," McKeon said. "Just give him a day. I just want to see if we can do something -- do something different."
Asked why he wasn't in the lineup in the clubhouse before the game, Ramirez said: "No. But I got to stretch though, that's what I know." Ramirez then proceeded to push his way past reporters and out of the clubhouse.
Ramirez, who had just two hits during the Marlins seven-game road trip last week, came off the disabled list last week after missing two weeks with a back injury. On Sunday, after grounding out to shortstop in the fifth inning, Ramirez was seen slowly making his way back to the dugout.
Was he loafing or was it his back? Nobody is sure. But asked about his health Monday, Ramirez said he was "fine." Before the game, Ramirez participated in stretching, played catch, shagged fly balls in the outfield and then took batting practice.
McKeon said he didn't know where he would put Ramirez in the lineup once he wants him back in. "Nothing's etched in stone," McKeon said.
But McKeon said he likes having Logan Morrison hit second and Gaby Sanchez third. "He's the type of guy that get a base on balls," McKeon said of Morrison. "I like having two pretty good hitters up there in the first inning."
Asked about having McKeon as his new manager, Ramirez said he likes having a guy in charge who won a World Series.
"He knows what he has to do to win games," Ramirez said. "He's a good guy. I met him in '06 and he got along with everybody. I don't know how to explain it to you guys, he expects everyone here to play even harder. He knows we have a lot of talent out here and we have to show it out on the field and we haven't done that for the past 20 days. He's going to get everybody to play hard. If you don't play hard, you're not going to be here.
"We have to go out there and show everybody we're ready to compete everyday. We have a lot of people with their head down. It's not easy when you lose 18 out of 19 or 17 out of 18. You have to stay positive. We haven't done that. We have to have fun and keep playing the game hard and having fun. We have to be smart out there and show everybody we're having fun."
Asked about his slump, Ramirez said he hopes to break out of it soon. "I haven't found a way [to get out of it]. Jesus," Ramirez said. "I'm going to get out of it. It never happened before. Hopefully soon. This team needs me.
"Everybody says I've been thinking too much. I don't know why because I don't think. But I think I've been thinking too much at home plate."