Teams starting to exploit Hanley's defense

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers accept the bad with the good when it comes to Hanley Ramirez.

His powerful bat makes up for defense at shortstop that, at its best, is unreliable. This spring, they're seeing examples of both sides of Ramirez's game. In fact, they saw it all in one game on Thursday.

Ramirez hit a massive home run off Cincinnati Reds left-hander Lee Hyde in the Dodgers' 8-2 loss. He also bobbled a ball hit by the fastest player in baseball, Billy Hamilton, an error that led to a downward-spiral of a third inning by Dodgers' fifth-starter contender Paul Maholm.

An inning earlier, Ramirez failed to pick up a delayed steal attempt for the second game in a row. Thursday, Reds catcher Brayan Pena was able to take second base uncontested. Tony Campana of the Arizona Diamondbacks did the same thing in Wednesday's game. In both cases, Ramirez left the bag uncovered.

"Hanley knows," Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach said. "We talked. He said, 'That's me,' and I'm actually glad they showed it to us. Obviously, there's something out there that they can do that and now we have something. We can counter that and talk about it."

Maholm got a little preoccupied once Hamilton got on base and wound up walking Todd Frazier, the Reds eventually scoring four runs in the inning to drive up Maholm's spring ERA from 1.80 to 7.04. That's a significant development for Maholm, competing with Josh Beckett to make the Dodgers' rotation. If Maholm loses out, he'll pitch out of the bullpen, something he has done only once in 243 major league games.

"You're going to have days like today," Maholm said. "Obviously, I've gone through it and had worse than today. I'm not worried about, 'Oh, I had a bad start, so it's out the window.' For me, it's about being healthy, getting my mechanics where they need to be and going from there."