Alexei focusing on all aspects of hitting
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Give Alexei Ramirez high marks for toughness in 2012.
But the shortstop won't provide such a favorable review concerning his production.
After colliding with center fielder Alejandro De Aza on a Craig Gentry fly ball in a game against Texas on July 27, Ramirez played the remainder of the season with left wrist soreness and inflammation that hampered him at the plate. He fought through the pain to finish with just nine homers and a .265 average, both career lows, but feels poised for a return to excellence in 2013.
"The way I prepare, every year you learn something different," said Ramirez through translator Lino Diaz. "The way I prepare for pitchers and use strike zone discipline ... a little more patience at the plate, that's something I'll continue to get better at.
"I felt I reinforced every aspect of hitting. I know there's room for improvement in different areas, but nothing specific. Just continue to do my routine and reinforcing all the stuff I've been working on. I feel this is going to be a good year."
Ramirez would be defined as the prototypical free swinger, which probably won't change after five seasons in the Majors and seven playing professionally in Cuba. But as manager Robin Ventura pointed out, Ramirez becomes more dangerous when he uses the whole field as part of his offensive game.
"He got to a point last year where he was pulling the ball only and was susceptible to offspeed stuff," said Ventura of Ramirez, who hit .323 in July and .290 in August, but just .237 in September, while driving in 73 runs overall. "And when he did have spurts when he was going well, he was going the other way and covering the strike zone better."
"I'm aware I need to hit the ball the other way a little more and try to do that," Ramirez said. "But my game is not going to change."