MARYVALE, ARIZONA -- Despite the departure of Prince Fielder, the Brewers are feeling optimistic as they get ready to start a new baseball season. One reason why is their big replacement for Fielder's big bat - Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez is new to the Brewers this season, but he is hardly new to the Big Leagues. Phil Garner was still managing in Milwaukee when Ramirez first came up with the Pirates as a 19-year-old. In his years with Pittsburgh and then the Cubs, Ramirez has hit 25 or more homers in a season nine times. Now, he's Milwaukee's biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason.
"I'm ready for the challenge. I've been a middle-of-the-order guy my whole career - RBI type of situations most of my whole career, so I'm used to that position," Ramirez said.
Ramirez was positioned as the "big bopper" in Chicago, but will now get to bat behind Ryan Braun. "We're talking about the National League MVP - one of the best players in the game, so it should be fun," Ramirez said.
The Brewers signed Ramirez to play third base, but they also want some coverage across the diamond at first base - as in Prince Fielder. Ramirez and his run-producing bat take Fielder's spot in the batting order. "I can't replace Prince Fielder, and I'm not going to try to do that. I'm just going to be who I've been my whole career. You've gotta protect Braun, and that's my main job. I gotta be sure he gets good pitches to hit, and that means I gotta do my job. If we stay healthy, I think we're going to be okay," Ramirez said.
Ramirez himself has stayed pretty healthy, avoiding the disabled list since 2010. The Brewers didn't sign him to field or to steal bases. They signed him to hit with power in the middle of the order, and that is nothing new to Ramirez.
The Brewers take on the St. Louis Cardinals in their home opener Friday, April 6th at Miller Park.
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