Wednesday, April 30, 2008

White Sox's Alexei Ramirez learning despite struggles

By Mark Gonzales
Tribune reporter

April 29, 2008, 10:42 PM CDT

MINNEAPOLIS -- Deciding whether to take a pitch or stay aggressive is just one of many adjustments Alexei Ramirez has learned in his first month in the major leagues with the White Sox.

"Everything is good, and it's not all roses [even] when you're hitting and playing well," said Ramirez, who left Cuba to play in the big leagues. "I'm learning a lot and maturing a lot. I'm working hard. Hopefully things will work out."

Ramirez learned the hard way Monday when manager Ozzie Guillen questioned Ramirez's decision to swing at the first pitch after Brian Anderson walked to load the bases in the fourth inning.

"I'm being aggressive," said Ramirez, who earned his way on the Opening Day roster because of a .358 spring average and his versatility.

"I'm not going to change the way I've played since Day 1 of spring training. That pitch was a fastball I was looking for and I missed it. I'll keep being aggressive."

Guillen cited a lack of experience for Ramirez's subsequent wasted at-bat.

"He's a kid, and we let him know right away about that situation," Guillen said. "You can't ever say that you assume they know. I blame myself also because we should have let him know the situation, let him know exactly what we need him to get done.

"[But] I manage a big-league club. I don't manage the Little League or Instructional League, and they should know that."

Another transition for him is playing second base, although Ramirez said he played second as well a shortstop and center field in Cuba. He has made remarkable strides since spring training, when several coaches worked with him on the nuances of playing second well before regularly scheduled spring workouts and exhibition games.

"I'm going to keep working at it, and God will put me in the right path," said Ramirez, who could make his first start at shortstop in Wednesday's series finale with Minnesota.

Copyright © 2008, The Chicago Tribune

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