Slumping Ramirez gets day off
White Sox shortstop working to correct mechanics
ST. PETERSBURG -- Seated on a red cart just behind home plate while the White Sox took batting practice at Tropicana Field Sunday morning, Ozzie Guillen had a brief talk with one of the most important offensive forces on the White Sox.
It's just that Alexei Ramirez hasn't fit that description through the season's first 11 games.
"I'm not concerned with what he's hitting, but how he's hitting," said Guillen of Ramirez, who entered Sunday's series finale with five singles in 40 at-bats. "That's it.
"He's worrying about too much: his average, and that he's not doing well. But in the meanwhile, that has caught up with him with bad at-bats. This kid is going to swing at a lot of pitches, we know that. But when you swing at as many as he does and you don't make an adjustment, that thing is going to kill him."
Ramirez got the day off against Tampa Bay's Matt Garza, with Brent Lillibridge moving over to shortstop from Saturday's start at second base. The move gives Ramirez a chance to get away from the struggles for two days, factoring in Monday's off-day.
But Lillibridge also has an opportunity for more consistent at-bats. Although he came into Sunday's game hitting .067, Lillibridge has been doing his job at the top of the order with a .333 on-base percentage.
"The thing is -- every game I played in, I've felt great," Lillibridge said. "I have had great at-bats and swung at good pitches. I'm just not getting balls to drop so far.
"Just getting on base, that's the biggest thing. I'm happy if I get a couple of walks, even with no hits."
This move certainly is temporary, with Ramirez figuring to be back in the lineup on Tuesday in Baltimore. Ramirez's April struggles during his rookie year of 2008 have been well documented: he held a .114 average as late as May 7.
Guillen's show of confidence and a few adjustments made to his swing leave Ramirez hoping he has the same sort of stellar final five months as last year.
"It's my mechanics right now," said Ramirez through translator Ozney Guillen. "We're watching video from last year, and [hitting coach] Greg Walker said my bat is too much around my head and I got to be more upright.
"I'm always a slow starter. I want to do my best in the beginning and help the team, but I always get better as the season goes on."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.