'Unpredictable' Alexei showing versatility

'Unpredictable' Alexei showing versatility

'Unpredictable' Alexei showing versatility

CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez had only three homers entering Monday night's series opener with the Tigers.

His 17 errors not only lead all shortstops but also leave him tied for second with Ryan Zimmerman behind Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez (24) for any individual position player. His previous single-season high for miscues was 20 during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

But maybe too much focus has been placed on what has gone wrong for Ramirez, as opposed to positives from a fairly decent season for the White Sox shortstop.

Ramirez sits fourth among shortstops with 25 stolen bases, and his .285 average puts him fifth. He has been asked to hit in six different spots throughout the batting order, with 335 plate appearances coming from the second slot, and has hit .395 over his last eight games. His fWAR of 2.2 trails only Chris Sale and Jose Quintana on the White Sox roster.

"He really has learned to adapt to different roles he's played in the lineup, without question," said White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto. "The one thing about him is that he swings. He's not afraid to swing, he's not afraid to come outside of his own strike zone, which is great. We are seeing some of the benefits of it.

"His home runs maybe are down, but I don't think anybody has ever asked him to hit home runs, and I don't think anyone thinks he's a home-run hitter. He's unpredictable in a good way. It's hard to defend him because you don't know what he's going to do at-bat to at-bat."

With $20.5 million left on the two remaining years of his four-year deal and Minor League middle infielders such as Marcus Semien and Carlos Sanchez pushing forward, it's not completely certain where Ramirez fits on the South Side. What's known is that Ramirez can be a productive force pretty much anywhere in the lineup.

"Definitely the higher part of the lineup," Manto said. "He's so versatile. You don't know, he can change, he's like a chameleon. He can move the runner, drive the runner in. Drag out an at-bat. I don't think there's one spot that stands out. He can hit anywhere."

"I'm just focused on contributing in whatever way they want me to contribute this year," said Ramirez in a recent interview through translator and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez. "I focus more on getting on base and contributing in that respect. It feels good to help the team."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.