CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez hasn't got time for the pain.
While some soreness and minor maladies might have sapped some of his power production or ever so slightly slowed his production at the plate, it hasn't kept Ramirez from playing in 135 of the White Sox 138 games. Ramirez stands tied with right fielder Alex Rios for the team lead in that category.
"To a large degree, he's had some little things that have bothered him over the course of the season," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of his shortstop. "I've been amazed that he continues to go out there every day when he's beaten up and banged up and I think he needs a couple of days. But he insists on playing.
"That will take its toll on you a little bit. I look less at the numbers and more the effort and stability he gives us on a day-to-day basis."
Ramirez's numbers have picked up of late, as well.
He homered in the sixth inning of Friday's 7-5 loss to the Royals to tie the game at the time, and at 66 RBIs, he falls just 11 from matching his career-high in the category. Over his last 21 games, Ramirez has hit safely in 18 of them and has a .352 average (25-for-71) with three homers and 14 RBIs during that stretch.
Add in his continued Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop, and Ramirez has been a highly productive force for the American League Central leaders.
"The only thing I can focus on is helping this team," said Ramirez through translator and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez, with Ramirez moving within one of his fifth straight season with double-digit homers. "As long as I can help this team at a high level and not hinder this team winning, that's my only goal.
"You have to love the game. God has given me this gift to play and given me this opportunity to play. For me not to play, it means I can't take the pain anymore. It means the pain hurts so much that it won't allow me to play the game that I love."
Ramirez appreciated Williams' praise. His durability and consistency have given him a leadership role in his fifth year with the organization. But he takes nothing for granted.
"I feel and I try to act like I just arrived yesterday," Ramirez said. "If I'm considered a leader, it's because I try leading by example. But I try being the first one in and the last one out. That's how you lead by example."