MINNEAPOLIS -- Although the outward displays of emotion have never been very noticeable, Alexei Ramirez has felt disappointment.
Early this spring, the White Sox shortstop reiterated how dissatisfied he had been with his own play last season, noting how he expected more of himself even as he finished 2012 with a .265 average and 73 RBIs.
The sentiment has carried over to the team’s recent overall and defensive struggles, of which Ramirez has been at the heart. The veteran has committed six of the team’s 30 errors this season. But energized by his insertion into the second spot in the lineup, Ramirez is ready to move past the disappointment and get back to winning.
“It has been very difficult,” Ramirez said through a translator. “It has been hard even more so because I care about winning. When I don’t win, I can’t be happy. But that’s the past now and I’m going to concentrate on what comes in the future.”
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Since he moved to the second spot in the lineup six games ago, manager Robin Ventura believes Ramirez has been happier.
Not that he feels like he has a great read. Ramirez rarely shows his emotions on the field or in the clubhouse, preferring to internalize what he’s thinking. But Ventura thinks Ramirez is excited by the move to the top of the lineup.
“You don’t really notice (his emotions),” Ventura said. “He has that enjoyment of playing. I think everybody sees him as when it’s not going well, he just keeps going. But you can’t really tell what he’s thinking. … He’s more excited about being at the top end of the lineup than being at the other end. You just run with it. He’s doing the little things. He’s probably shortened it up a little bit with his swing just to make sure he’s putting it in play and moving it around.”
The numbers suggest Ventura’s assertion is correct. Ramirez is 10-for-25 with four runs, three doubles, three RBIs and three stolen bases in the No. 2 spot. Though the sample size is very limited, Ramirez’s .920 OPS in the second spot is significantly higher than when he bats sixth, seventh or eighth.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto sees a difference in Ramirez’s at-bats since he has moved up in the lineup.
“He’s finally finding the middle part of the field,” Manto said. “He’s determined to hit the ball up the middle and hasn’t pulled off many pitches and with that he’s having some quality at-bats and some success with that.”
Ramirez credits Manto and assistant hitting coach Harold Baines with helping him feel more comfortable at the plate. The Cuban product had a critical RBI late in Tuesday’s win when he singled over a drawn-in infield to give the White Sox a two-run lead.
“I feel really good with the help of Harold and the hitting group,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been able to do a lot of good things and I feel good about it.”