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Defensive struggles hit Alexei Ramirez hard



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Updated: June 25, 2013 11:46PM

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez started the season strong at the plate when the rest of the White Sox were struggling.

Ramirez still is hitting well enough, but he has slumped defensively, leading American League shortstops with 12 errors, including one Sunday that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the Kansas City Royals’ come-from-behind victory.

‘‘It has been difficult,’’ Ramirez said before the Sox’ game Tuesday against the New York Mets, apologizing for not talking after the game Sunday. ‘‘When you lose a game like that, it’s hard.’’

Ramirez, who has played in every game this season, said he hasn’t changed his approach or how he has prepared.

‘‘My mind is still the same,’’ he said. ‘‘I still have high expectations for myself.’’

Ramirez said the Sox’ problems are ‘‘difficult for everybody. It’s hard because I care about the team. There’s nothing to do now but concentrate on the [next] game.’’

Manager Robin Ventura backed Ramirez, a former Silver Slugger winner at his position.

‘‘Sometimes you get those [tough errors],’’ Ventura said. ‘‘The one Sunday was a tough ground ball. I think a lot has been made of it, but he’s a good shortstop. His focus and everything is there, and he’s going to be playing. . . . He’s our shortstop, that’s for sure.’’

Ramirez is hitting .277, but he hasn’t hit a home run since April 3.
Still, he drove in the winning run against the Mets with an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning, giving the Sox a 5-4 victory.

‘‘He’d probably like to hit more homers,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But hitting second, he’s focused putting it up the middle or the other way, or we put him in hit-and-run situations. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do.’’

Ailing Konerko

Back soreness kept first baseman Paul Konerko out of the lineup Tuesday.

‘‘It’s just tight,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Hopefully he can pinch-hit.’’

The problem arose after the Sox came home from Kansas City, Ventura said.

Konerko has hit safely in seven consecutive games and is hitting .346 (18-for-52) in his last 14 games.

Jake’s cause

Right-hander Jake Peavy’s friend and former San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds died of pancreatic cancer a year ago. Peavy remembered him and his grandmother, who died of cancer in January, at a fundraiser Sunday.

‘‘It was just about a year since Darrel passed away, then my grandmother in January,’’ Peavy said. ‘‘To have Darrel’s widow here and my family and some of the guys [teammates], it was awesome.’’

Like much of the city, Peavy spent Monday night watching the Hawks.

‘‘It was outstanding,’’ he said. ‘‘Is there a better phrase for an athlete than to say, ‘You’re world champions’?’’

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