Ramirez playing his way into infield mix
Rookie continues to shine, could start at second for White Sox
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The move was small but meaningful, imperceptible if you didn't follow Alexei Ramirez's path off the field to the White Sox dugout on Friday afternoon.
With two outs and nobody on in the second inning, San Francisco's Eugenio Velez executed what looked to be a perfect drag bunt toward second. This is the same Velez whose Cactus League-leading 12 stolen bases are just one short of the White Sox total as a team.
But Ramirez barehanded the bunt and fired a perfect strike to Paul Konerko, barely catching the fleet-footed runner at first base. Then came the move, a fist pump by Ramirez, which might have been mimicked by others in the White Sox organization scattered throughout Scottsdale Stadium, who just might need a little defensive convincing to make him the starter at second base.
"This kid can play everywhere, man," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "I don't think this kid is scared.
"Has he played good at second? Yes. But he's played better center field and shortstop. This kid will help us win some games at the big league level."
Veteran Juan Uribe looks as if he will remain with the White Sox, although Guillen wouldn't go as far as to name him a starter when asked prior to Friday's Cactus League contest. Pablo Ozuna and his .400 career average against C.C. Sabathia will start on Opening Day, but there's little question as to Ramirez's standing as the surprise of spring and basically having played his way on to the roster.
Guillen was questioned about the possibility of Ramirez needing more Major League experience to succeed, but he gave an example as to how his lack of knowledge around the league could work to Ramirez's advantage. In an earlier spring game against Oakland's Rich Harden, when the other hitters were trying to figure out if the forkball or fastball was coming, Ramirez just went up and hit.
Much like Uribe and Ozuna, Ramirez has played well because he's a ballplayer -- regardless of the competition.
"That's an advantage to him. He just goes and is aggressive," said Guillen of Ramirez. "I thought he [was not going to be] that good, but the kid can play. I wouldn't say he's great, but he's pretty good. He made adjustments in this game right away."
"We also get a savvy player, who has knowledge of the nuances, and can set up a pitcher here and there," White Sox general manager Ken Williams added. "For him to be accomplished at three positions certainly is a bonus."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.