DENVER — Were his confidence the overriding factor, Alexei Ramirez might already have three crucial hits in his team's first six games.
But as 100-plus years of baseball history shows, confidence doesn't always translate into results.
The White Sox shortstop is riding a hot streak through the first week of play, and on Sunday he was rewarded for a week's full of consistent at-bats. After two close calls in the previous three games, Ramirez provided the go-ahead hit and later drove in an insurance run in the White Sox 5-1 win at the Kansas City Royals. Ramirez, who has a team-high 10 hits in 22 at-bats (.455 average) this season, said his experience has him in a good spot.
"It's the confidence," Ramirez said through the team's manager of cultural development, Lino Diaz. "It's my seventh year in the league, and I feel like I've been around and I know how it goes. I'm able to have more fun and at the same time feel more comfortable."
Ramirez has proven to be a streaky hitter over the course of his career. He can be a bit of a free swinger at the plate, and for that reason manager Robin Ventura wants him near the bottom of the lineup so he can pick and choose the pitches he wants to hit instead of trying to work the count near the top of the lineup.
But even with his free-swinging ways, Ramirez has done a good job of hitting to all fields the first week of the season. Sunday's game-winner was an infield single up the middle. On Saturday, Ramirez hit a hard liner to deep right that would have gone for extra bases and given the White Sox the lead had it not been for a great catch by Royals outfielder Nori Aoki. Two days before that, Ramirez hit a line drive right to shortstop with one out and the tying run on third base in the ninth inning of a one-run loss.
"He's staying through the middle," Ventura said. "For him it's getting pitches in the strike zone. It's always been about pitch selection and being able to get somebody in the zone. If you make yourself swing at strikes you have a better chance and he's been doing that."
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Ramirez has never been one to succeed in March and April. His .605 OPS for the month is 92 points below his next lowest month (Sept./Oct.) and nearly 120 minimum below every other month on the calendar. His high for hits in a month is 27 during the 2011 season, a number he would eclipse with a modest performance the rest of the month.
Asked about his individual success, Ramirez, who has also walked three times and has a .520 on-base percentage, instead focused on the importance of Sunday's victory, one that evened the White Sox record at 3-3.
"The more important thing is that we won today," Ramirez said.
"Everybody contributed a little bit, but the big thing is that we won."