MILWAUKEE — Aramis Ramirez is no stranger to cold starts. Just last year, in an impressive season that landed him his first Silver Slugger award, Ramirez had just two home runs through the first two months of the season.
The same could be said for his 2010 season as well, in which he didn’t raise his batting average above the .200 mark until the second week of July.
This season, through 15 games, Ramirez has had similar struggles. He’s batting .158 and has just one long ball and six RBI. For a veteran that’s gone through slow starts before, neither Ramirez or Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is very concerned about the status of Milwaukee’s important cleanup addition.
“I still don’t think he feels like he’s really at the point where he’s confident in what he’s doing,” Roenicke said on Sunday. “We’re seeing more good at-bats from him, but he’s not locked in to where he feels, yeah, I got it.”
Roenicke said that Ramirez had given some of the credit for his past cold starts to the early season cold weather with his previous team, the Chicago Cubs. But under the protection of Miller Park’s roof, Ramirez hasn’t seen the results he had hoped for in better conditions. Still, Roenicke remains optimistic.
“Being in the dome, he figured he would start a little better than he has,” Roenicke said. “I figured he would. But I think he still has a real good chance to turn it on in a hurry. Last year … I can remember All-Star break numbers of him the first half versus the second half were quite a bit different. Hopefully, it won’t take that long for him to get it going.”
AOKI GETS GOING
Norichika Aoki has never been a home run hitter, per se. But having come over from Japan before the beginning of the 2012 season, Aoki had anxiously awaited that first opportunity to round the bases.
But when he hit a ball to left field in the second game of the Brewers’ series with Colorado, he never would’ve guessed that that moment had come—he had just hit his first home run.
Of course, he’d have to work for it a bit first. Rockies’ left fielder Carlos Gonzalez had missed the ball as it rolled past him, allowing Aoki to show off his speed for the first time in front of the crowd at Miller Park. He flew around the bases all the way to home plate for the team’s first inside the park home run since Rickie Weeks hit one last season.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a home run there,” Aoki said through his translator. “I was just running as hard as I could. I’m just very happy with the results.”
And so is Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who admitted that he’d like to get Aoki into more games this season. But with center field a three-way platoon right now between a struggling Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez, and now possibly Aoki, playing time could be hard to come by.
“He wants to play,” Roenicke said. “He wants to play a lot more. And hey, he’s doing what he can do to show us that he should be. … He’s doing everything we’re asking him.”
SLOW STARTS ALL AROUND
Slow starts have been a theme throughout the early beginnings of this season for the Brewers, as guys like Ramirez, Morgan, Weeks, and Ryan Braun have all gone cold at some point in the Brewers first 16 games.
That’s the first four bats in the order. And through April, they’ve managed to hit just .182 from the plate.
“I think early in the year, everyone wants to get off to a good start,” Braun said. “Sometimes, you dig yourself a deeper hole and get into more trouble by doing that.”
Roenicke said after Sunday’s loss to the Rockies, however, that he’s not at the point where he’ll tinker with the lineup.