Don Mattingly and Hanley RamirezOne of the bigger stories looming over the Los Angeles Dodgers’ camp this spring will be whether or not shortstop Hanley Ramirez signs a contract extension with the team.

Ramirez is heading into the last year of his contract and has expressed his desire to remain in Los Angeles. The two sides have been talking, making a deal before the season possible. According to Mark Saxon of ESPN LA, Ramirez isn’t worried about a possible extension:

With reporters, he has brushed off questions about his contract status, focusing instead on the Dodgers’ goal of winning a World Series.

“For me, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I’m not thinking like that,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez hit .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI in 86 games last season and was a catalyst in the team’s turnaround from last place to National League West champions. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is intent on keeping Ramirez focused on the season, knowing that the team needs him in order to be successful.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Mattingly had some sound advice for the 30-year-old shortstop:

When you worry about it, it takes away from the game,  Mattingly said. I do see this as a carrot. He knows at the end of the year if nothing happens, there are 30 teams. Nothing wrong with that. It’s what free agency is all about.

He’s in a great spot. Just go play. He’s confident in what he can do. If we can keep him on the field, he’ll be fine. I want Hanley to be a leader, and we saw after he won the [World Baseball Classic] last year, he was talking about winning, not about his at-bats. We’ve seen real growth in Hanley. He’s been great.

Ramirez had been typecast as a selfish player after his rough departure from the Miami Marlins, but has been nothing but a team player with the Dodgers. In the postseason, Ramirez played with a fractured rib, even though he was visibly bothered and wasn’t the same player he had been during the season. The slugging shortstop has praised his teammates in Los Angeles for making him a better player, person and teammate.

With a focused and healthy Ramirez, the Dodgers are poised for another deep run into October that would earn him a new deal if one is not done before the season.

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About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

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