Ramirez passes 2,000-game mark, has goal of 2,500
MILWAUKEE — When it comes to his baseball future, Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez has always kept his cards close to the vest.
But when meeting with a small group of reporters to discuss playing in his 2,000th-career game Sunday, Ramirez said he had decided to play beyond the 2014 season.
"I’m going to go for 2,500 (games)," Ramirez said. "So we’ll see what happens. I’m only 36, I’ll be OK.
"I’m playing past this year for sure. I don’t know how much longer, but I have a few more years. I talked to my family and stuff, and I’ll see where I’m at after the season, but I feel good now. My body is telling me I can keep playing, so I’m going to do it."
Ramirez is in the final guaranteed year of a three-year, $36 million contract he signed with the Brewers before the 2012 season. The Brewers and Ramirez have a mutual option for next season at $14 million, meaning both sides would have to agree to pick it up.
If Ramirez decides to take the option and the Brewers decline, Milwaukee would owe the veteran third baseman $4 million in a buyout.
With nobody in the organization ready to take over at third base, the Brewers will likely strongly consider bringing Ramirez back if he continues to produce and stays healthy over the final months of the season.
"That I don’t think about," Ramirez said. "I don’t really like to talk contracts during the season. They haven’t approached me about anything, either, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t know (about a potential contract extension). We’ll see.
"I like it here. That’s the reason I came here. No regrets. I’ve had a great three years here. It’s a great place to play baseball. Great stadium; we have a roof and don’t have to worry about conditions. Good team; we just missed the playoffs my first year here, and this year we’re in the pennant race. We have a good team. It was the right choice for myself."
On Wednesday, Ramirez became the 16th active player in baseball and the 238th player all-time to play 2,000 career games. Adrian Beltre is the only active third baseman to play more games at the position, and Ramirez is 16th all-time in games played at third base.
There are 16 third baseman in the Hall of Fame, and Ramirez has more home runs (366) than 14 of them and more doubles (452) than 12. At 1,332, Ramirez is nine RBI away from passing Hall of Famer Ron Santo for 11th-most all-time by a third baseman.
Ramirez has shown this season he’s still capable of being a run producer in the middle of a lineup, hitting .283 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI despite missing a month with a hamstring injury.
"It’s pretty incredible," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Ramirez reaching 2,000 games. "And playing third base, too. Sometimes you go to first or DH. He’s still out there playing.
"He can still hit; he can still hit fourth in your lineup . . . When he’s healthy, he’s on the field, he still puts up some big numbers."
Ramirez doesn’t recall much about other milestones in his career, such as his 1,000th game, but he does remember the first game he ever played in the big leagues.
It just so happened to be in Milwaukee at County Stadium on May 26, 1998. Ramirez hit seventh for the Pittsburgh Pirates that day and went 0 for 3 with a walk, flying out to left against Brewers starter Scott Karl in his first major-league plate appearance.
"It’s been worth it," Ramirez said. "I’ve had fun. I achieved my goal of being a major-league player for a long time. All I have left to do is win. Hopefully I do it this year."
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