CHICAGO -- With injuries, ineffectiveness and age wracking the infield of the White Sox, the one constant so far this year has been the defense of Alexei Ramirez.
No infielder has started as many games at one position as Ramirez's 80 at shortstop. In fact, only four Omar Vizquel spot-starts have prevented Ramirez from starting every game at shortstop. The closest second place is Paul Konerko, who has started 67 games at first base this year.
Part of the reason for all the starts is that Ramirez has been a surehanded shortstop all season.
The scary thing for the rest of the American League is that Ramirez's manager, Ozzie Guillen, thinks he will be better -- high praise coming from someone who has won a Gold Glove for his play at Ramirez's position some 20 years ago.
"I think Alexei's going to be better [defensively]," Guillen said. "I don't have any doubt in my mind that he will get better as he matures as a shortstop, as he matures and keeps learning about the position in the big leagues. Right now I could say he's maybe the best shortstop in the American League."
Ramirez is in the top three among all shortstops in putouts, assists, double plays and range factor.
"I talked to him and I said, 'You're not going to win the RBI title, you're not going to win the batting title, you're not going to win the home run title, but you can win a Gold Glove,'" Guillen said. "You work for it, and work on it, and he's doing it every day. I think this kid has played 100 percent, and he has a chance to be a lot better."
Beckham looks ahead to All-Star break
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham is hoping that having three days away from baseball for the upcoming All-Star break will help him regain last year's form.
He's just not going very far away from baseball.
Beckham will be traveling to Los Angeles, site of this year's All-Star Game, to do an appearance for Pepsi. Even though the event is only two hours, Beckham decided he would rather stay in Los Angeles and take part in some of the festivities.
"I just think the All-Star break in itself gets you away from baseball for enough days to where you can really unwind and relax a little bit," Beckham said. "I don't think it really matters for me to go, as long as you do something."
Last season, Beckham spent the All-Star break relaxing at a beach in his native Georgia.
Beckham might not be far from emerging out of the season-long slump he's been mired in, as he is batting a respectable .250 over his last 10 games.
"It's better, and I'm continuing to work pretty hard for where I want to be," he said. "We're in a pennant race, and I have no time to think about myself. I've got to make sure I'm getting better for this team and make sure I'm a part of this team. Eventually, I know I'm going to be contributing enough to help the team win."
White Sox feel good about place in division race
CHICAGO -- The news out of Seattle that ace Cliff Lee had been traded to the Texas Rangers shocked the baseball world, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had his own unique take on the move.
The Twins were also looming as a potential trade destination for Lee, and in that sense, Guillen thinks he might have dodged a bullet.
"Yeah, I don't think you want to face that guy four times," Guillen said. "That's one of the best pitchers in the game, and it's a very surprise move, and I'm very excited for my part that he went somewhere else."
The White Sox have made up 14 games on the Twins in the past month, and they have passed them, as the Twins have been in a swoon of late. It was assumed that a move for Lee might have jolted them back into the upper echelon of the Central.
As it is, the White Sox claim they are right where they need to be at this point in the season.
"Any time you can win baseball games, it's important," first baseman Mark Kotsay said. "Going into the All-Star break, if you can position yourself in your division to feel like you've got the ability to make a run at it, you're obviously going in happy. Hopefully these next three days we can get some stuff done against Kansas City and move forward."
Just a month ago, it seemed unlikely that the White Sox would feel good about their All-Star break prospects, but a torrid 27-game stretch in which the White Sox went 22-5 has put them right back in the thick of the AL Central race.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.