Ramirez’s power out­age

Ramirez, who re­turns to the South­land with the White Sox, has had the pro­duc­tion of a lead­off hit­ter

Los Angeles Times - - Front Page - Mark Gon­za­les

The ex-Dodger, back in the South­land on Fri­day, isn’t bat­ting like he used to.

Par­al­lels have de­vel­oped be­tween Manny Ramirez and for­mer ma­jor lea­guer Rudy Law.

Law played for the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. The same is true now of Ramirez.

Law de­vel­oped into a sin­gles hit­ter. The same is true now of Ramirez.

One prob­lem: Sin­gles weren’t what the White Sox en­vi­sioned when they were will­ing to pay the re­main­ing $3.8 mil­lion of Ramirez’s salary while be­ing awarded his rights on a waiver claim from the Dodgers on Aug. 30.

Al­though Min­nesota clearly over­matched the White Sox with a 45-19 run to clinch the Amer­i­can League

Cen­tral ti­tle, the White Sox were an­tic­i­pat­ing more power from Ramirez — who makes his re­turn to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day night as Chicago vis­its the An­gels.

“I was there be­fore, yeah,” Ramirez replied when asked about his re­turn to the South­land, al­beit about 30 miles from Dodger Sta­dium.

Ramirez was suf­fer­ing from flu symp­toms that made him a late scratch from the lineup Wed­nes­day, and he coughed and walked away af­ter ex­press­ing his un­cer­tainty about the re­cep­tion he would re­ceive from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia fans.

Those fans might in­clude some who were cap­ti­vated by his amaz­ing 53-game streak in 2008 that vaulted the Dodgers to the post­sea­son — af­ter he bat­ted .396 with 17 home runs and 53 runs bat­ted in — and earned him a two-year, $45-mil­lion con­tract.

But Ramirez, 38, who is ninth on the all-time home run list with 587, has one ex­tra-base hit — a home run — and one RBI in 55 at-bats since join­ing the White Sox. He hit 21 home runs in 456 at-bats with the Dodgers af­ter serv­ing a 50-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball’s steroid pol­icy in 2009.

On the flip side, Ramirez has a .431 on-base per­cent­age since join­ing the White Sox.

But Chicago was seek­ing more power from him in the fifth spot in­stead of the pro­duc­tion tai­lored more for a lead­off hit­ter.

“His bat speed is way down,” one Na­tional League scout who watched him over the last two sea­sons wrote in an e-mail last week. “He has not pulled a ball ‘hard’ for three months — and of course, the power has been non-ex­is­tent!”

As a team­mate, Ramirez has fit in well with the White Sox, par­tic­u­larly his fel­low Latin play­ers. He fre­quently ar­rives early for bat­ting prac­tice and con­di­tion­ing.

“He’s one of those guys that goes to any team, and ev­ery­one is go­ing to love him,” backup catcher Ra­mon Cas­tro said. “The way he is, he keeps ev­ery­one loose. He helps peo­ple. He likes to work.

“So we’re go­ing to go [to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia], and I know he’s go­ing to get a lot of boos. But he’s used to that al­ready. He’s a vet­eran guy and knows how to han­dle that sit­u­a­tion.”

Cas­tro thinks that fin­ish­ing out the sea­son with reg­u­lar at-bats will only help Ramirez re­bound next year — pro­vided there’s a team that be­lieves he can re­turn to a sem­blance of his pro­lific pro­duc­tion.

“He didn’t play this year the way a lot of peo­ple wanted him to play,” Cas­tro said. “But that’s part of the game. At the same time, that’s go­ing to hap­pen. Hope­fully if they sign him here next year, he comes back stronger and do what he al­ways does.”


Ezra Shaw

John Smierciak

HE’S BACK: Manny Ramirez has one ex­tra-base hit and one run bat­ted in since join­ing the White Sox.

Charles Rex Ar­bo­gast

STRIK­ING PER­FOR­MANCE: Chicago des­ig­nated hit­ter Manny Ramirez re­acts af­ter strik­ing out against Min­nesota.

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