LOS ANGELES -- As Hanley Ramirez prepared to make his home debut at Dodger Stadium on Monday, he couldn't help but notice a number of differences from Miami.
Yes, the palm trees, warm climate and heavy Latin community remain the same, but Ramirez is in unfamiliar territory after seven seasons with the Marlins. After struggling the last two seasons, Ramirez has responded well to the change of scenery, going 7-for-21 with a double, triple, home run, five runs and seven RBIs in his first five games as a Dodger.
Joining a team tied atop a division that is right in the thick of a pennant race appears to have helped. The Marlins entered Monday 47-54 and in fourth place in the National League East, while the Dodgers sat at 56-47 with a chance to make the playoffs.
"It's way different," he said. "You have to win every day. That's one of the things that I like."
Additionally, Ramirez can now play home games in a stadium that features more filled seats than empty ones. The Dodgers are averaging 41,212 fans per game this season, which is significantly higher than the 28,406 Miami averages. Last season, Ramirez played in front of only 18,772 fans per game, as the Marlins ranked second-to-last in the league.
"Every time we came to Los Angeles the fans were always screaming," he said. "I think it's one of the loudest stadiums that I have been in. You look for the little things that can pump you up during the game."
Also different for Ramirez is the style of manager he is now playing under. In Miami, the infielder played for the fiery Ozzie Guillen, who wasn't afraid to let an expletive or two slip from his mouth. Now, he is playing for the laid back and easy-going Don Mattingly, who has been considered by many current Dodgers as the ultimate player's manager.
The differences extend from the coaches to the players, as Ramirez said the Dodgers play great as one unit that enjoys playing together. He noted the energy, fun and cohesiveness in the team's dugout and clubhouse.
"I think those guys make me better," said Ramirez, who laughed and opted to plead the fifth when asked how the Marlins compared.
That instant connection with his new club means a new gesture that has taken the Dodgers' dugout by storm. Every time Ramirez gets on base, he cups his eyes to signify "I see you" to his teammates. He said the idea came one day when he and Dee Gordon were talking in the dugout, and he said it's just another example of all the fun he is having as a result of the change of address.