Hard-working Hanley primed for huge season

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Each morning for Hanley Ramirez starts off with a couple of hours of hitting in the cages.The Marlins’ three-time All-Star is a regular in the cages with hitting coach John Mallee, whom he greatly respects.

“Every day we’re working out, spending like two hours in the cage,” Ramirez said. “I love it.”

Determined to become more of the hitter he was in 2009 than ’10, Ramirez is starting to get his timing back. It’s been reflected in his performance, especially with his triple off Detroit’s Justin Verlander on Thursday night.

Mallee says Ramirez often is in the Roger Dean Stadium cages from 7:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET.

“We’ve shortened up his swing, and [we’re] trying to get back the swing he had in 2009,” Mallee said. “Last year, he got into a little trouble when he was jumping and rushing at the ball. He’s worked really hard in Spring Training, being in the cages every day.”

Ramirez entered Friday’s game against the Mets batting .476 (8-for-19) in Grapefruit League action. In 2009, the Florida shortstop was the National League batting champion with a .342 average.

A year ago, he had a rough offseason by his standards. He was hampered in the second half with a hyperextended left elbow. In 142 games, the All-Star shortstop batted .300.

“With Mallee, he’s working on my swing to get it back,” Ramirez said. “The key is my timing. We’re just working on my timing, that’s it. That’s all I need.”

Ramirez isn’t big on watching video, but Mallee does that for him and points out what the three-time All-Star was doing when he was going well.

“When I load up and I’m ready to hit, that’s when it is good,” Ramirez said. “When my timing is there, that’s when I know good things will happen.”