GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Management's anxiety level has been dialed back with the impressive play of Hanley Ramirez, who is scheduled to leave camp on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic.
Ramirez has worked hard to better himself defensively at shortstop and, almost overlooked, has resembled the smart and gifted hitter manager Don Mattingly envisioned him to be. On Friday, Ramirez had a pair of hits, two stolen bases (including one of home) and an RBI against the Padres.
"I feel better all the way around," Mattingly said. "I know how good the guy is. To me, hitting .250, that's not good enough for Hanley Ramirez. If a guy tops out at .260 and is hitting .250, OK, but for Hanley, he's just better than that.
"He had  homers and 92 RBIs last year, and we're asking for more. If he takes his hits, he'll drive in runs and hit more home runs."
Ramirez averaged a combined .257 with the Marlins and Dodgers last season, a long way from the .342 he hit to win the National League batting title in 2009.
"All I'm working on is hitting the ball up the middle," said Ramirez. "That's what I think about whenever there are runners in scoring position. I do that, and I drive in runs. I love to drive in runs."
Ramirez and reliever Ronald Belisario leave on Sunday to join the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, respectively, for Classic games in Puerto Rico. The Dodgers' other Classic participants -- Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz (Team Mexico) and Nick Punto (Team Italy) -- depart on Monday to join their clubs in Arizona.