9/18/2013 2:45 P.M. ET
White Sox await Alexei to uncover his potential
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- With a .285 average, 39 doubles and 30 stolen bases, Alexei Ramirez has turned in a better season with the bat than he has previously been credited. The 22 errors made at shortstop stand as a team and career high for Ramirez, although he remains one of the better fielding shortstops in baseball.
Nonetheless, manager Robin Ventura believes this good version of Ramirez is not close to his best.
"I don't think this year is really indicative of the kind of shortstop he is," Ventura said. "Each year is a little different, but he has that ability to be one of the elite shortstops. It's just right now, I don't think it's there, if you just look at what he's done this year. But I don't think that's him in the future."
Ramirez is under contract for another two years, with a club option for 2016. Like many others on this underachieving team, Ramirez could be a possible trade chip in the offseason as general manager Rick Hahn tries to reshape and retool for the future.
But in that scenario, the White Sox may end up feeling they didn't realize what they had until he's gone.
"It goes a lot of different ways like that," Ventura said. "Sometimes players will leave and it's like that, and sometimes players leave and the team they were with is better than maybe they thought, as far as the way they were treated or whatever.
"That's always there. I expect him to be better, and I think he does, too."
Speedy prospect Johnson visits White Sox
CHICAGO -- Micah Johnson sat in the U.S. Cellular Field home dugout that he hopes to occupy for many years to come.
On this warm Wednesday afternoon, Johnson was just a visitor.
The 15th-ranked prospect in the White Sox system according to MLB.com, received a plaque from general manager Rick Hahn and assistant general manager Buddy Bell commemorating his leading Minor League Baseball with 84 stolen bases this season. Johnson was named Most Valuable Player of the Southern League Championship Series, won by Double-A Birmingham in five games.
During the entire postseason, Johnson hit .368 with 12 runs, seven RBIs, seven walks and seven stolen bases, pushing his season total over 90.
"That's the first championship I've ever won ever. That was unbelievable," Johnson said. "I didn't know what to do. You know how the middle infielders go to second base after a regular win? I kind of did that. I didn't know to go to the dog pile.
"I wish it wouldn't have gone to five games. We were up, 2-0, but then that fifth game made it more fun actually. It was really intense."
Johnson will soon travel to Arizona for White Sox instructional league action and then move on to the Arizona Fall League on Oct. 8. He will continue refining his speed-based game that sometime in the next year or two should translate into something beneficial for the White Sox.
"When I got to Double-A at first, you are going to be nervous, obviously," said Johnson, who hit .312 in between stops at Birmingham, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Winston-Salem. "You think maybe your success was just because you are in the low levels.
"But I got there and stole like seven bases in the playoffs and got on base a lot, especially in the championship series. If I just stay to my approach, even at this level, I think it will translate just fine. Just get on base any way possible -- hit or error. Just don't worry about it. Get on base so I can score."
White Sox GM Hahn defends predecessor Williams
CHICAGO -- When a season goes as wrong as the 2013 campaign has for the White Sox, it's usually easy to find targets or scapegoats as the cause for underachievement.
How about hitters who have dipped below their career norm? Or a defense that was the best in baseball in 2012 and arguably the worst in '13?
The argument goes that Williams left a depleted farm system along with bad free-agent contracts and trades that didn't work in the team's favor. Williams was asked about such criticism in August, and he said that he did the best that he could for as long he could, always trying to make that extra push toward a championship effort, like 2005.
Current general manager Rick Hahn, who served as Williams' assistant before moving into his new role, doesn't buy the idea that Williams left him in a bad position.
"First of all, he didn't leave," Hahn told MLB.com of Williams. "He's still here. He left the position of general manager with a club that was in first place for  days. He left us in a position to have a nine-digit payroll. You are not going to hear any gripes about the condition he left us in.
"Obviously, a lot has been written, and we have said a lot about the caliber of our starting pitching. That has to be part of the legacy of what was left behind or however you want to describe it. That's a big positive and an envy of a lot of different organizations. So I don't get too caught up in that."
Despite planned rest, Santiago expected to start again
CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago's weekend rest against the Tigers doesn't mean his 2013 season is complete. Despite throwing a career-high 142 2/3 innings, manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday that the left-hander will get another start.
"He'll miss a turn if everybody is good," Ventura said. "If for some reason something comes up, then he'll probably take it. If everyone is OK, he'll get a rest."
Andre Rienzo, Chris Sale and Erik Johnson are scheduled to pitch this weekend, with Jose Quintana pitching Monday in the makeup game against the Blue Jays. Ventura said none of those pitchers had an issue, but nothing was concrete, whereas Santiago couldn't move back into the rotation to pitch at Comerica Park.
"If something happens, and I'm not saying anything has happened," Ventura said. "I'm just saying if it does, then he will stay in the spot."
Third to first
• Jake Petricka refused to blame his rough outing in Tuesday night's win, where he allowed two runs without retiring a batter, on late-season fatigue.
"Last night I made a mistake to every hitter, and they made me pay for it," Petricka said. "It was just the day before I did an interview about attacking the zone, and then I go out there and it seemed like I was pitching timid. I wasn't, but for some reason, I wasn't throwing it in the zone."
• Avisail Garcia was expected back with the White Sox on Wednesday after the birth of his daughter, Annarella, with his wife, Anakarina, on Monday.
"He gets a few days to be able to do that," said Ventura of Garcia's paternity leave.
• Entering Wednesday, the White Sox ranked fifth in the Majors with a .255 average with runners in scoring position and two outs. Garcia (.355) ranked eighth in this category, and Dayan Viciedo (.348) sits 10th.