SAN DIEGO -- Alexei Ramirez has never been one to get off to fast starts -- and it's not exactly something of which he's proud.But following a rocky beginning to his tenure with the Padres, those slow starts are something he can fall back on as the calendar turns to
SAN DIEGO -- Alexei Ramirez has never been one to get off to fast starts -- and it's not exactly something of which he's proud.
But following a rocky beginning to his tenure with the Padres, those slow starts are something he can fall back on as the calendar turns to June. It certainly seems as though the veteran shortstop has turned a page offensively over the past week or so.
With a pair of big flies in Wednesday's 14-6 drubbing of the Seattle Mariners, Ramirez has now hit three dingers in his past four games -- this coming after 50 straight homerless games to start the season. He's hitting .367 (11-for-30) since May 24.
"My whole career, I've been one of those people that started slowly and got going," Ramirez said. "If I could have it the other way around, I would. I wish it weren't that way, but I think that's what it is, and I think that's where we're going."
When the Padres signed Ramirez to a one-year deal during the offseason, they believed they may have inked the veteran shortstop to a discount rate because of his early-season struggles in 2015. He posted a .757 OPS in the second half of last season -- 216 points higher than his first-half mark.
Through 54 games this year, Ramirez is hitting just .250 with a .627 OPS. Clearly his second-half surge didn't carry over. But the Padres wouldn't mind a late-season boost like the one Ramirez gave the White Sox in 2015.
"I'm still learning every day," Ramirez said. "I spent my whole career up until now in the American League. Now, in the National League, I'm still learning pitchers, still learning everyone, getting to know them. I think that's a big part of it. Aside from that, it's just seeing the ball well."
Part of that can be attributed to a change in Ramirez's approach at the plate. For much of his career, Ramirez has been predominantly a pull hitter. But the Padres recently noticed him putting a bit too much emphasis on working the ball to right field.
"He's always been a guy that's a head-out hitter that's hit to the pull-side predominantly in his career," said Padres manager Andy Green. "As we watched him the first part of the season, he was working hard to stay inside the baseball, use the whole field.
"There was some encouragement given in the last week and a half: 'Be who you are. You've always been the guy who's gotten the head out. You've always been very aggressive.' He's kind of gotten back to that, and I think you've seen the power surge as a result."
Ramirez peppered the left-field seats with his two homers on Wednesday -- one in the fourth and one in the sixth. In doing so, he became just the third Padres hitter this season to homer in conescutive at-bats and the first with multiple dingers in a game at Petco Park this season.
With the second multi-home-run game of his career, Ramirez set a career high with five RBIs. He also made a very impressive barehand play on a chopper in the top of the sixth. It was a breath of fresh air for the Padres, who had lost twice in Seattle earlier this week by a combined score of 25-7.
"My saying has been every game is different," Ramirez said. "What happened in Seattle is already in the past. We came out and done what we've always done -- prepared and played a baseball game and thankfully we got a victory."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.