CHICAGO -- Before Alexei Ramirez became the durable and steady White Sox shortstop, playing at least 154 games in each of the past six seasons, he was the team's center fielder.That's right, the lean veteran's Major League debut came on March 31, 2008, in Cleveland as the White Sox center
CHICAGO -- Before Alexei Ramirez became the durable and steady White Sox shortstop, playing at least 154 games in each of the past six seasons, he was the team's center fielder.
That's right, the lean veteran's Major League debut came on March 31, 2008, in Cleveland as the White Sox center fielder before he moved to second base and played 121 games at that spot. He had joined the White Sox after coming from Cuba, and he finished 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts in that opener.
Ramirez's White Sox tenure, which was the second longest behind John Danks among active players, came to an end Thursday when he reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres. His last campaign with the White Sox was an uneven one, hitting .224 with a .249 on-base percentage in the first half of 2015 and posting a .277 average with a .325 on-base percentage, eight homers and 35 RBIs in the second half.
Overall, the good moments far outweighed the inconsistent frustrations for Ramirez.
• It was Ramirez who hit a grand slam off of Detroit reliever Gary Glover during a Sept. 29 makeup game in 2008 that sent the White Sox into a one-game playoff against the Twins the next day for the American League Central title. That game vs. Minnesota is known as the Blackout Game, won by the White Sox, 1-0, and Ramirez set a rookie record with four grand slams that season.
• He won Silver Slugger Awards in 2010 and '14 but was known as much for his defense at short as his work with the bat. Ramirez never won a Gold Glove Award, but he ranks 21st among active players with a defensive Wins Above Replacement of 9.4.
• While Ramirez did his interviews with the help of a translator, he often opened up about his life. He dealt with the tragic murder of his father-in-law, his desire to return to Cuba at the end of his eight-year ban imposed by the country after he left and the disappointment over losing his Olympic Gold Medal won in baseball during the 2004 Games -- and the joy found from receiving a new one in a special ballpark ceremony. He was a colorful player who frequently used a swim move in trying to avoid tags at second base and often could be seen doing his own umpiring on close plays at first by signaling safe as he crossed the base.
The White Sox declined a $10 million option on Ramirez for 2016, making him a free agent and seemingly putting the position in the capable hands of Tyler Saladino, who will return to his natural position. This job eventually should belong to Tim Anderson, the team's No. 1 prospect per MLB.com, who talked about playing the position at a recent Rookie Career Development Program interview.
"I improved a lot on my defense," Anderson said of his 2015 season with Double-A Birmingham. "That was my main focus. There were worries I can't stay at shortstop, and I want to prove people wrong. Just keep improving and keep growing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.