NEW YORK -- General manager Ben Cherington, meeting with reporters here Thursday afternoon, offered no reason to believe that the Red Sox are prepared to try either Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez at different positions, at least for the balance of the season.
Cherington stated without equivocation that Sandoval will remain at third base and said that the team’s intention is to help players at their current positions, which suggests that Ramirez will remain in left field.
“Yeah, [Sandoval] is the third baseman,’’ Cherington said. “He’s working hard, we’re working hard with him to get the most out of him. He’s doing what he needs to do.’’
Sandoval has had a good series in New York. He homered Tuesday night, had two doubles Wednesday and made a nice diving stop in the first inning Thursday.
Ramirez, meanwhile, has been a nonfactor in New York. While he has not been guilty of any defensive gaffes, he failed to get the ball out of the infield in eight at-bats in the first two games.
Cherington said he has sat down with manager John Farrell and his coaching staff, and improved defense is a priority entering 2016. But that doesn’t mean shifting Ramirez from left field.
“We’re more focused on how do we continue to help guys in the spots they’re in, show us what they can do, figure out what their ceilings are and take that information into the offseason,’’ Cherington said. “More that than moving guys around.’’
Ramirez’s lack of production at the plate has become as problematic as his defense.
After hitting .338 in June, Ramirez came into Thursday’s game with a .207/.233/.360/.593 slash line since July 1, with just eight extra-base hits in 116 plate appearances. Even while hitting for average in June, Ramirez had just four extra-base hits -- a double and three home runs.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Ramirez’s well-hit average (balls determined to be hit well) was .238 in April, when he hit 10 home runs. That tied him for ninth among major-league qualifiers with Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Since then, his well-hit average coming into the Yankees series was .135, which ranked 99th among all qualifiers. The MLB average is .146.
His on-base average of .301 entering play Thursday is 72 percentage points below the .373 career OBP he had entering this season. And need we remind you, he is in the first year of a four-year, $88 million deal.
Only 10 major-league position players are being paid a higher average annual value than Ramirez, who at $22 million is tied with Adrian Gonzalez, the former Red Sox first baseman who was teammates with Ramirez in Los Angeles.
Gonzalez’s stat line through Thursday: .296/.372/.535/.907, 27 2B, 22 HR.
Ramirez’s line entering play Thursday: .260/.301/.445/.746, 8 2B, 19 HR.
“There are times his swing has gotten big,’’ Farrell said of Ramirez.
A couple of major-league scouts have described that swing in less complimentary terms, both likening it to a “beer league softball swing,’’ implying he is taking an all-or-nothing approach.
“A number of us have spoken to him about it,’’ Farrell said, “to get an idea of what his approach is at the plate.’’
Those conversations, it is clear, have made little or no impact.