GLENDALE, Ariz. - Free-swinging Alexei Ramirez got this far by being who he is, so manager Robin Ventura doesn't expect his shortstop to become a selective hitter overnight.
"My game is not going to change,'' Ramirez said. "But I'm aware I need to hit the ball the other way a little more and try to do that. But my game is not going to change."
An improvement on the 16 walks he settled for after drawing 51 in 2011 would be nice, though. While driving in 73 runs and batting .265 after hitting .269 with Ramirez 70 RBI in 2011, Ramirez saw his on-base percentage drop 41 points to .287. He scored 59 runs after scoring 81 and 83 the previous two seasons.
"You can put [being more selective] into his mind but that's how he got here -- being aggressive,'' Ventura said Monday. "You can tweak that to a certain extent but I don't see him all of a sudden talking a bunch of pitches and walking 60 or 70 times a year.''
Ventura said the 31-year-old Ramirez, who is entering his sixth season in the major leagues -- all with the Sox -- can be a better hitter, though, by using more of the field.
"You can move it around,'' Ventura said. "He got to a point last year where he was pulling the ball only and was susceptible to offspeed stuff. And when he did have spurts when he was going well he was going the other way and covering the strike zone better.''
Ramirez, who played through a sore left wrist which bothered him for much of the second half to get on the field for 158 games, was not happy with his performance in 2012. He had career lows in average, homers, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
"What happened last year, I learned from it,'' the 2010 Silver Slugger Award winner as the American League's top-hitting shortstop said. "It's more of an experience for me and I feel very good and I don't think it's going to happen again."