KANSAS CITY -- The White Sox defense has been a focal point of the team’s failures this season and Alexei Ramirez is in the middle of those struggles.
The shortstop entered play Friday first in the American League among all players regardless of position with 11 errors.
The miscue he made Thursday indirectly led to a pair or runs and prevented the White Sox from a potential comeback against the Minnesota Twins.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes Thursday’s error, the team’s 51st of the season, was a mental mistake as a routine grounder completely ate up Ramirez. Though he’s not the most vocal player and sometimes hides his emotion, Ramirez said the team’s current run -- and his contributions -- is one of the tougher things he has had to deal with.
“Definitely been difficult,” Ramirez said through a translator. “Obviously it’s been a couple nights hard to sleep because things haven’t worked out the way we wanted them to, some days defensively as well. It has been very difficult.”
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Ramirez entered Friday having played all of the White Sox 624 1/3 innings this season, the fourth highest in the American League. That total would figure to be a league-high if the White Sox hadn’t had four games delayed because of weather.
But Ramirez insists he isn’t tired.
“I’m absolutely ready to play every day, and it feels good,” Ramirez. “I’m trusting myself a little too much and missed a ball, 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.”
While Ventura wants to give Ramirez a day off, he doesn’t have a surefire backup shortstop on the roster to give him the flexibility. The White Sox also have days off on Monday and Thursday.
Were Ventura to sit Ramirez, Gordon Beckham would play in his stead. But Ventura doesn’t want to see Ramirez make a mental lapse as he did Thursday.
Ramirez’s 11 errors are one shy of the amount he committed last season when the White Sox made an AL-low 70.
“Right there he just sat back a little bit,” Ventura said. “It’s part of moving your feet and getting going. More mental than anything for me.”
As for the other surprising aspect of Ramirez’s game, the loss of power, he isn’t sure where it has gone. Ramirez, who hit 21 home runs in 2008, has hit one round-tripper this season.
But he attributes part of the loss of power to his hitting second in the order and that the team isn’t asking him to be a power hitter.
“I don’t know why the power hasn’t come,” said Ramirez, who has 79 homers. “But the one thing is that I’m not looking for that right now. I’m looking for hitting in a position where he doesn’t need to do that. If they come up, good. I’m trying to hit according to my position in the lineup.”
While Ramirez has struggled with the glove he has succeeded at getting on base during the team’s road trip. He entered Friday 11-for-29 (.379) on the trip and is seventh in the AL with 15 stolen bases.
He likes the approach he and hitting coach Jeff Manto have developed, the focus being hitting the ball up the middle.
“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,” Ramirez said.
As for his struggles with the glove, Ramirez said he can’t shy away from his familiar style. After all, it’s that same style that has helped Ramirez become one of the better defenders at his position.
“I just got to keep plugging away and trusting myself,” Ramirez said.