CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Nix gets starting nod at shortstop

Nix gets starting nod at shortstop

CHICAGO -- A spot in Ozzie Guillen's doghouse has not officially been reserved for Alexei Ramirez. Not yet.

But for the next few days, there also won't be an opening in the White Sox starting lineup for the runnerup to Evan Longoria in the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year balloting.

Guillen made the change for Wednesday's game against the Tigers, putting Jayson Nix in for Ramirez at shortstop. During his pregame chat with the media, the White Sox manager made it clear this was not a one-game respite for the Cuban Missile.

More

"It's hard for me to say, but it's not a rest," said Guillen of the change from Ramirez to Nix. "I always tell my players, 'Give yourself a chance. Get good at-bats.' But when you see one at-bat after another, after another, after another, and no results, no adjustments ...

"I'm not going to say I'm punishing him. But we are letting people know, just not him. We have to play as a team. We've got to see people on the field to help us."

Ramirez actually has raised his average from .125 on April 18 to .211 as of Wednesday, but it was a couple rough efforts with the game on the line during Tuesday's 8-7 loss to the Royals that seemed to force Guillen's hand. In the second inning, with two runners on and no outs, Ramirez hit into a double play.

In the 11th, Ramirez swung through a Juan Cruz slider for his second strikeout and stranded A.J. Pierzynski at first. It was Ramirez's ninth-inning at-bat, though, which might have been most telling.

Pierzynski delivered a one-out triple off reliever Jamey Wright, but Ramirez struck out on a 2-2 curveball and left the go-ahead run at third. Ramirez has featured a much bigger swing than his highly successful first season and has been beaten consistently by opposing offspeed pitches, as he's been unable to make the necessary changes to compensate for the league's overall adjustments.

Now, Guillen wants to see how Ramirez plays through adversity.

"Every athlete, I'm not going to say baseball player, they're all good when they play good," Guillen said. "But you've got to see the athletes when they fail -- how they act, how they survive, how they go about their business, how they keep your head up. It's very easy when you are on the top of your game and everything's [good].

"When you're down, you've got to get up and start fighting. I don't see that from him right now. I'm going to give him a couple of days to think about it, to sit with [hitting coach] Mr. Greg Walker and figure it out. I know Greg Walker's going to do everything in his power to get him better. But Greg Walker's not going to be on the field and hit for him."

Since being called up from an injury rehabilitation assignment with both Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham, Nix has three hits in seven at-bats. Nix also impressed the White Sox during his brief Spring Training stint before he suffered a right quadriceps strain.

As long as Nix shows the quality of at-bats he's shown over the first two games, Guillen will find a place to play the young man. In Guillen's mind, it's not about the hits as much as it is about the approach. If Ramirez is unable to change his approach, the Missile might not be firing off any time soon.

"He better get his, you know, start playing better," said Guillen of Ramirez, who hit .290 with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs in 2008 and was a driving force in the White Sox reaching the playoffs. "Give me better at-bats. That's all I need. I don't care if Alexei goes 0 for the next 400 at-bats.

"Have you seen his at-bats? Give me good at-bats and you're in the lineup."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less