By Bruce Levine-
U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (CBS) –– If you ask American League batting leader Alexei Ramirez why he is hitting so well this season, he has no real answer for you.
“I keep working with Harold [Sox coach Harold Baines] in the cage like I always do,” said the hot-hitting Sox infielder. “I am not working on anything new. [Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson] has me sitting back on the ball a little bit, but I have my routine with Harold where we work on some things.”
The leading hitter in the league is just one of the offensive stars on a team that leads the majors in runs. Ramirez points to teammate Jose Abreu as the emerging star and leader on the team two weeks into the season.
“He has helped a lot,” the shortstop said. “He is an aggressive hitter and he is someone that motivates you. I want to do as much as he does. Abreu pushes us. He has all the qualities to be a leader. Even though it is his first year in the big leagues, it is not his first year in baseball.”
Ramirez has disappointed some people and fans due to less-than-stellar home run totals the last two seasons. After averaging 18 homers in his first four campaigns, he hit only 15 home runs total in 2012-13.
“I am not a home run hitter,” Ramirez said. “I hit more earlier in my career but I am not trying to hit home runs. I am not a home run hitter. I am just trying to do the best I can at the plate.”
Dealing with the personal tragedy of the loss of his father-in-law in March of 2013 impacted his entire family. The sudden loss do to a random murder was distracting and painful for his family.
“The loss is something you never forget,” he said. “Our family is surviving and doing well. We try to remember the great moments we had with him and the time we spent together.”
Ramirez is not only leading the league in hitting, he also has a season-long 13 game hitting streak. Manager Robin Ventura has had his shortstop hitting eighth in all the games so far.
“I don’t care where I bat,” Ramirez said. “My approach does not change whether I hit second or eighth. Right now I am batting eighth. If that is the best place for me to help the team than I am happy there.”
The 22 errors he made in 2013 was a career-high. He was the subject of trade talks last July and a source confirmed that both St Louis and Pittsburgh inquired about a trade last year.