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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ramirez confident despite slow start at plate this season


Staff writer

Alex Ramirez isn't worried about his numbers.

News photo
Power threat: Alex Ramirez leads the Yomiuri Giants with nine home runs this season. KYODO PHOTO

The former two-time MVP is hitting .274 with nine homers and 26 RBIs through Thursday. Not bad, but nothing close to what the career .304 can do once he really gets going.

Of course, in the age of the 24-hour news cycle and the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports, Ramirez is fielding questions about his "slow" start almost nightly. And he has the same answer nearly every time.

"I always say it's not how you start, it's how you finish," Ramirez said. "I never put my head down, even though I haven't been hitting too well during koryusen (interleague play). I know that I'm going to produce more, so it's going to be OK."

The focus on Ramirez's slow start is amplified because of the Giants' offense struggles as a whole.

After 44 games, the Giants are 11th out of the NPB's 12 teams with a .227 team batting average, just one point ahead of the NPB-worst Chunichi Dragons.

Yomiuri's normally power-laden lineup has 31 homers this season, but that number is slightly misleading.

Nine Giants have homered this year, though among them is third-string catcher Ken Kato, pitcher Shun Tono and Yoshinobu Takahashi and Yoshiyuki Kamei, neither of whom is on the active roster.

Ramirez's nine home runs lead the team, though the slugger did have to wait 14 games between his eighth and ninth homers.

"Sometimes you hit, sometimes you don't hit," Ramirez said. "That's part of the game. But I feel that I can do better. Going 10 or 11 days without hitting a home run is a long time for me.

"I had to change some things in my mechanics, body-wise and things like that, and I'm glad I did."

As is the case with many Central League stars, Pacific League pitchers have been able to mostly keep Ramirez in the park during competition between the two leagues.

Japanese baseball entered the interleague portion of the schedule earlier than usual this season due to the large number of games postponed in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

But Ramirez dismissed the notion that facing PL pitching this early in his season is having an effect on him.

"We still were going to play these guys," Ramirez said. "Even though we started early, we had enough time to be ready for the interleague. So it didn't affect me at all. Like I said sometimes you hit, sometimes you don't."

Carp, Lions settle for tie

KYODO

Tokorozawa Saitama Pref. — The Hiroshima Carp and Seibu Lions played out a 1-1, 12-inning tie in an interleague game in which runs were at a premium on Friday night.

In the ninth, Seibu's Hiroyuki Nakajima connected for a leadoff homer to center to tie the game at 1-1 and eventually force extra innings at Seibu Dome.



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