Marlins drop struggling Hanley Ramirez (.201) to sixth in lineup

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is trying anything in an attempt to break the Marlins free-fall.

And that includes continuous tinkering with the lineup, which is how Hanley Ramirez ended up in the sixth spot Saturday, the first time since his rookie season in 2006 that Ramirez has hit sixth.

"Shake something up, see how it works," Rodriguez said with a shrug before the Marlins played the Rays in the second game of the three-game series at Tropicana Field.

Ramirez had been in the leadoff spot since coming off the disabled list Tuesday, but Ramirez has gone 1-for-13 in that role, and his average has fallen to .201.

With the Marlins in the midst of a stretch where they have lost eight straight and 19 of their last 22, Rodriguez has not been reluctant to make wholesale changes in the lineup from game to game.

"I was thinking about moving Hanley, and started going lower and lower and he ended in the sixth hole. That is where he ended up," Rodriguez said.

Ideally Ramirez would hit third for the Marlins, but Logan Morrison has taken over that spot, at least until Ramirez can start hitting.

NO ANSWERS: Aside from moving Ramirez in the lineup, Rodriguez said there is not much else he can do to try and get Ramirez to hit like he did in 2009, when he hit .342.

"I have been talking to a lot of baseball people, and to him, and nobody has an answer. His swing is different. Too much body, too much arm," Rodriguez said. "His bat speed is at best average. I don't have the answer."

Ramirez hit .300 last year, and has a career average of .306.

HAD AN IMPACT: Ramirez has been struggling at the plate all season, but he was also battling back inflammation in late May before going on the disabled list May 30.

Rodriguez said that has contributed to the Marlins slide, as they are 1-16 in May.

"It was not a coincidence that we started losing when Hanley got hurt. He wasn't hitting but he was a presence in the lineup," Rodriguez said.

The impact of having Rodriguez in a slump and top pitcher Josh Johnson out since May 17 has taken its toll on the young Marlins, Rodriguez said.

"They are still trying to figure out how to play at this level," Rodriguez said about his team. "Asking them to replace those guys and to step up? They might do it but they are prettying too much pressure on themselves."

Rodriguez said the Marlins current woes are "100 percent in their heads."

He said the Marlins have the same talent they had when they the first two months of the season, when they got to 29-19 on May 26.

"The talent is still there but they are approaching the game different," Rodriguez said.

VOLSTAD SKIDDING: Chris Volstad (2-7, 6.07) starts Sunday, and he is looking for his first win since April 26.

"Even though he is 24, he also has to step up," Rodriguez said. "He is more experience than Brad Hand, than Elih Villanueva."

Rodriguez had the same message for Saturday's starter Ricky Nolasco.

"Ricky has to step up. Like Anibal [Sanchez] is doing, he has to say, 'Guys, follow me. I am going to keep you in the game,' " Rodriguez said.

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