For White Sox, it has been Alex-E in 2013
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2013 10:58PM
Updated: July 23, 2013 6:20AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shortstop Alexei Ramirez has long coveted a Gold Glove to accompany the Silver Slugger Award on his mantle, but at the rate he’s going, he’ll have to give that another try next season. His error on a routine grounder Thursday that cost the White Sox a couple of runs in a loss was his American League-leading 11th.
Ramirez didn’t commit an error in the Sox’ 9-1 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. Nonetheless, the 11 errors are one shy of his total from last year.
Defense is killing the Sox, and Ramirez, who has played every inning, is smack dab in the middle of the infield and the problem. He seemed to be on the defensive talking about his defense.
“The only one who doesn’t make mistakes is the one who doesn’t play,’’ Ramirez said through a translator Friday. “I just have to keep plugging away and trusting myself.”
The Sox’ disappointing season has “been difficult” and caused sleepless nights, Ramirez said. He has made mental mistakes on top of the physical ones, too. Manager Robin Ventura called the Thursday muff mental and implored Ramirez — and the rest of the Sox — to “clean it up.’’
“Right there, he just sat back a little bit. It’s part of moving your feet and getting going,’’ Ventura said. “It was more mental than anything for me.’’
Of course, Ramirez has range like few others and a big arm that makes him a top-level shortstop. The plays he has made to bail pitchers out of innings over his five years are large in number, and it’s safe to say that if general manager Rick Hahn is willing to trade Ramirez, the return would be considerable.
Ramirez said he doesn’t want or need a day off.
‘‘I’m mentally ready to play every day,’’ he said, declining to use fatigue as an excuse.
“I feel I’m trusting myself a little too much and missed a ball [Thursday], but I feel well. I’m anticipating and trying to do that stuff. That was one of the ground balls I trusted. I got down, but the ball came up on one of them.”
Ramirez hasn’t been himself offensively, either. He went into the season ranking first among AL shortstops in RBI and second in home runs since 2009, but he has one homer and 14 RBI. His other numbers are close to normal, though, and he has 15 stolen bases. Batting second in the lineup since early May has him looking to hit the ball to right field more, which Ventura likes.
“He has power,’’ Ventura said. “It’s not that he doesn’t have power. He’s probably trying to use that hole [on the right side] when guys are on first base. … As it warms up, he’ll probably hit more home runs.
“Last year, he got a little pull-happy, but he’s more consistent as a hitter if he’s going up the middle or the other way and pulling it on occasion.’’
“I agree,’’ Ramirez said. “Not only me, everybody. Once you widen your field, once you’re not just hitting the ball to one field and hitting to all fields, you have a chance to connect better and get more hits.”