8/13/2013 12:14 A.M. ET
'Unpredictable' Alexei showing versatility
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
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."
Beckham: Konerko's 'got a lot more left in the tank'
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham does not know baseball with the White Sox without Paul Konerko as the team's captain and Konerko serving as a mentor to the second baseman.
So Beckham wasn't about to assume anything about one of the franchise's top players being gone after this season or stepping into that leadership void himself when asked about Konerko prior to Monday night's series opener with the Tigers.
"If Paul wants to play, he'll play. Obviously, that's a decision for him after the season," Beckham said. "He's got a lot more left in the tank, so I wouldn't rule him out of playing next year. If he doesn't, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I think he's got a while yet.
"There's just not any reason for me to talk about that. He's the guy. He's going to be here until he's not. He's the guy who everybody's going to go to for anything."
Beckham praised Konerko's approach to each game, saying he prepares more than anybody he's ever met. Manager Robin Ventura shared the same feelings, adding that he wouldn't name another captain if Konerko wasn't back in '14.
"You have a guy that leads by example and has been a class act his whole career," Ventura said. "There are a lot of things I don't necessarily have to deal with because guys are influenced by him, just his work ethic, how he goes about his business."
"He's obviously the captain for a reason," Beckham said. "He understands the game and understands what it takes to be successful in this game. To have somebody like that around all the time, it's a positive thing for the rest of the guys here because there are a lot of younger guys playing with us now. He's always there for you if you need to talk about something baseball related."
Viciedo looks to return to action after negative MRI
CHICAGO -- An MRI taken Monday on Dayan Viciedo's jammed thumb turned out to be negative, and the left fielder hopes to return to the starting lineup in the next day or two.
"It feels a lot better," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz.
The problem for Viciedo came playing defense, as the soreness made him unable to move his thumb to close the glove. On Monday, Viciedo moved his tightly wrapped thumb without much of a problem.
This injury took place in the first inning of last Monday's contest against the Yankees, when Viciedo dove for a Robinson Cano single. Viciedo was able to get up and throw Cano out at second, but left the game in the bottom of the first. He didn't play Tuesday, Game 1 on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Viciedo is hitless over his last 12 at-bats, but he is batting .286 over his last 15 games.
Viciedo praises fellow Cuban prospect Abreu
CHICAGO -- Reports of Jose Abreu, 26, defecting from Cuba already have sent the collective minds of fans around baseball into high gear regarding the addition of this powerful bat when he is declared a free agent.
Dayan Viciedo, who made his own journey from Cuba to the Major Leagues prior to the 2009 season, only reinforces that excitement with his words about the man he once played against.
"He's got a really good bat. He can hit. I remember that," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "I know he's a good player but more than anything, I remember he has a good bat."
Viciedo expressed willingness to help recruit Abreu if the White Sox engaged in serious pursuit, with the White Sox having employed Jose Contreras, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Alexei Ramirez and Viciedo from Cuba over the past decade. But that pursuit still seems a ways away for a player who hit .360 with three homers and nine RBIs for Cuba during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, with Viciedo avoiding any early comparisons to current Major Leaguers.
"To compare him would be kind of hard," Viciedo said. "I'm sure that he's going to prove what he can do and he's going to show what kind of talent he's got because, hitting-wise, he has pretty good talent. He's always been representing Cuba in international tournaments, and he's always been good.
"I wouldn't go past that in saying anything else. But he's a good hitter."
Third to first
• Avisail Garcia has nothing but good things to say about his time in Detroit. But in facing his original team for the first time Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, the talented outfielder is embracing his new chance with the White Sox.
"I think it's really good because I have a good opportunity here to play every day," Garcia said before going 0-for-4 in the 6-2 White Sox victory. "Show what I got. See what happens. It takes time."
"He has power and speed," said Ventura of Garcia. "All those things are promising."
• Add Ventura to the long list of baseball dignitaries handing out praise to the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera.
"Frank [Thomas] was a good hitter, Albert [Belle] was a good hitter," Ventura said. "The things that [Cabrera's] doing now and last year, offhand I can't think of a better hitter left, right, it doesn't matter. He's that good."
• Rangel Ravelo, an infielder for Class A Winston-Salem, leads the Carolina League with a .314 batting average. His .391 on-base percentage ranks fourth.
• The White Sox have committed one error in the last 11 games, after making 15 in their previous 11.
• Ken "Hawk" Harrelson once again was absent from the broadcast booth Monday because of an illness. Tom Paciorek replaced Harrelson, and Steve Stone moved to play-by-play.