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Hitting coach Jeff Manto praises Alexei Ramirez’s new approach

Updated: October 2, 2012 6:12AM

DETROIT — One of the more interesting statistics through the first five months of the season is Alexei Ramirez’s 62 RBI, the same total as cleanup hitter Paul Konerko.

Ramirez has been steady with 77, 68, 70 and 70 RBI in his four seasons with the Sox, and he’s on pace to finish around there again. But hitting coach Jeff Manto said Ramirez is making strides toward becoming a better hitter.

“Lately he doesn’t give bats away,’’ Manto said. “He’ll take a swing that’s out of sorts and next time he has a double. He’s shrunk down his swing a whole bunch. He’s not swinging for a home run. He’s accepting the single.’’

After hitting 21, 15, 18 and 15 homers, Ramirez has eight with a month left.

“That’s OK,’’ Manto said. “His home runs are down, his RBIs are up. He’s learning how to hit without the power, which is good. Now that he’s shut his swing down and is moving the ball over the field, he knows he doesn’t have to drive the ball. We have guys that do that.’’

Manto’s explanation for Konerko’s RBI total is Adam Dunn, who had 38 home runs and 88 RBI batting in front of him.

“Dunner is driving in so many runs that Paulie is coming up with nobody on,’’ Manto said.

September call-ups

Backup catcher Tyler Flowers is expected back Saturday after missing two games on paternity leave. Center fielder Alejandro De Aza can return from the disabled list Sunday. September roster expansion begins Saturday, but it will be staggered, manager Robin Ventura said.

“We’re still going over that now, making sure who’s coming in,’’ Ventura said. “It’s hard because you have Triple-A [Charlotte] going to be in the playoffs. We were at first concerned, but you don’t want to strip them down.”

“[Promotions] could be in stages. We’ll have a few guys [Saturday]. Flowers will be back tomorrow. And then after their playoffs are over, we’ll have more guys.”

One or more pitchers in addition to Dylan Axelrod will be added. Dan Johnson would put an experienced, left-handed pinch-hitter with power on the bench. And Orlando Hudson could pinch run and serve as a backup infielder.

“There’s going to be a lot of the same guys who were up early in the year,’’ Ventura said.

Pierzynski ends skid

Ventura wasn’t the least bit surprised to see A.J. Pierzynski break an 0-for-17 slump with his career-high 23rd home run during his first at-bat against Doug Fister on Friday. Before the game, Ventura said Pierzynski’s only issue was poor pitch selection.

“It’s not something you expect to continue,’’ Ventura said. “But everybody goes through stretches like that and he’ll get out of it.’’

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