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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The long and short on Hanley Ramirez

By Mark Saxon

Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach refuses to call it a project.

Wallach, who works with Dodgers infielders, will have just a few weeks this spring to help get Hanley Ramirez up to speed playing shortstop, a task made more difficult by Ramirez's decision to play in the World Baseball Classic. Wallach, who played 16 seasons as a major-league third baseman, sees it as a relatively easy fix.  It's all about timing.

"He'll be fine," Wallach said. "At times, he just took his time a little too much. That's what happens when you get used to playing third."

The Dodgers hoped Ramirez would play shortstop in winter ball, but a minor shoulder injury scrapped those plans. They hoped he would remain with them in camp this spring, but Ramirez decided to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC. The Dominicans have two of the game's best fielding shortstops, Jose Reyes and Erick Aybar, and the best-fielding third baseman, Adrian Beltre. Ramirez might get only scattered game repetitions playing the field at either position.

He could be away from the Dodgers from late February through March 19, the conclusion of the WBC.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has said all winter he would prefer Ramirez skip the WBC, but he's resigned to Ramirez's decision now.

"It's really hard to say, 'Don't play for your country,' " Mattingly said. "I'm kind of torn. Selfishly, I'd like Hanley to be in camp playing short every day."