Alexei Ramirez always finds a way to play
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com August 7, 2013 10:28PM
Sun-Times sportswriter Daryl Van Schouwen. January 27, 2012 | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: September 9, 2013 3:05PM
In an era when players who refuse to come off the field are a diminishing breed, you have to say this for White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez: The man doesn’t want a rest.
‘‘Mañana,’’ Ramirez said Wednesday when asked when he was going to take a day off.
That would be Thursday, an open date on the Sox’ calendar.
If there’s a game to be played, Ramirez will find his way to the middle of the infield. Through a defensive slump, the usual aches and pains an every-day player deals with, trade rumors and mourning the loss of a close family member, Ramirez has played in every game this season.
‘‘The day I don’t play is when I cannot run or get on the field,’’ Ramirez, 31, said through a translator before he went 3-for-6 and scored the winning run on Alejandro De Aza’s two-run triple in the 12th
inning that gave the Sox a 6-5 victory a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees. ‘‘I have some old aches and pains, but I’m going to play.’’
Adam Dunn forced extra innings with an RBI single against all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth that tied the score at 4-4. After Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead with a home run against Dylan Axelrod in the 12th, the Sox scored twice against Adam Warren with two outs to finish the series sweep.
Ramirez played in 158 games in each of the last two seasons and in 156 in 2010.
‘‘You have to like it; you have to have passion for it,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘You have to want to be in there
every day. Baseball, for me, is
everything. . . . It’s all I want to do.’’
As much as he loves it, Ramirez doesn’t like the way he has performed. His 18 errors are two shy of his career high, and more than a few have cost the Sox victories.
While his offense has been
acceptable — he is batting .286 with 29 doubles and a career-high 24 stolen bases — questions loom about where his home-run power has gone. Ramirez has hit one homer this season after hitting nine last season and averaging 17 the four seasons before that.
Ramirez brushes it off and attributes it to batting second for most of the season.
‘‘I’m not concerned about it as much as doing some other things being a 2-hole hitter,’’ he said.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto suggested pitchers finally have caught on to Ramirez’s free-swinging ways and adjusted accordingly.
‘‘He doesn’t have the same swing twice in a row,’’ Manto said. ‘‘Hitting for power comes from having consistency in your swing. At times, he swings at balls high, low or out [of the strike zone] and gets base hits. I believe if he is more patient at the plate, he’ll have more home runs. But you can’t argue with what he’s doing.
‘‘I don’t like taking the personality out of a hitter. To tell him to calm down and be more selective, I don’t think that would be fair to him. That will take him out of what he is.’’
Ramirez heard the trade whispers that escalated as the non-waiver deadline July 31 came and went. He is signed through 2015 with a team option for 2016, but he might be dealt before next season if general manager Rick Hahn is
offered a favorable return.
‘‘That’s something I have no control over,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘I would love to finish my career here in Chicago. I play baseball, and I just concentrate on that.’’