Ramirez ready to get to work
But the Brewers new third baseman is only going to hear it from the fans during the eight times the Brewers go to Wrigley Field this season.
“He’ll hear it everywhere he’s going,” Ramirez said Tuesday. “The only place that’s going to be comfortable playing for him is Milwaukee. Other than that, the fans like that kind of stuff. They can’t wait to get on him, I can guarantee you that.”
Braun will hear it if he is on his usual numbers. He might hear more if he is not because they will say, “See, he was juicing.”
Said Ramirez, “He knows that. He’s not stupid. He’s a smart kid. He’s got to deal with it. He proved he’s innocent, and that’s behind him.”
Innocence, of course, is a matter of opinion in Braun’s case. How Braun will cope with opposing fans, though, is unequivocal to Ramirez.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” he said. “He’s just got to go out and do what he’s done his whole career. That’s to produce and be an all-star.”
Which, of course, is what Ramirez did with the Cubs since 2003. That doesn’t mean he won’t receive a less-than-friendly greeting at the confines.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Good question. You’ve got to ask the fans that.”
Does Ramirez care?
“No,” he said. “I’ve moved on. I play for the Brewers now. I enjoyed my time in Chicago. I did well there. But I’m a Brewer now.”
The only rap on Ramirez in Chicago was that he was sometimes aloof with fans, the media and occasionally with teammates. Former teammate Todd Hollandsworth once ripped him on the radio for how Hollandsworth perceived the veteran interacted with young infielders Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.
“It’s too early to say,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Ramirez’s clubhouse manner. “I know there were some negative things that were said in Chicago, but I haven’t seen any of them. He’s been great. He gets along with the guys well. He’s been very professional about his job. What I see from him defensively is good. We know he can hit. Everything has been real good.”
And that’s the way the Brewers’ major upgrade at third wants it. In terms of personality, he’s much closer to Zack Greinke than Braun. As Ramirez mentioned at the time of the Hollandsworth flap, he’d prefer to do his job and leave the attention to others.
But as Braun said earlier this week, there are a number of things about the Brewers that appealed to Ramirez. One is assuredly Miller Park.
“It’s a great place to play,” Ramirez said. “Domed stadium, no rain delays. Wind is not a factor like it was at Wrigley. It doesn’t matter if the wind blows in or blows out. It’s just perfect conditions to play baseball. And anytime you get a domed stadium, it’s a good place to hit.”
Otherwise, Ramirez is typically circumspect on the matter.
“I’ve been in both markets before, a small market in Pittsburgh and a big market in Chicago. I don’t see any difference. As a player, it doesn’t make any difference. I just play the game. I don’t worry about where I’m at. It could be in New York, it could be in Pittsburgh, I approach it the same way.”
Look, Ramirez has been in the big leagues since he was 19 years old. The Pirates signed him at 16 out of the Dominican Republic. He is a professional ballplayer who doesn’t get caught up in the Brewers-Cubs sideshow, which isn’t to say he is indifferent about the environment he joined.
“They’re all great guys,” he said. “They all embrace me well. They have fun playing the game. You can tell they have fun. A lot of it has to do that they’ve been together a lot. They came up through the minors together. They’ve got some veterans but they’re also real young. They have fun, that’s the main thing.”
And don’t bother with the Prince Fielder questions. That’s yesterday’s news. Ramirez can’t replace that bat, only compensate for its absence. And like Braun, he can go about his job in the only way he knows how.
“It’s business, anywhere you go,” Ramirez said. “I’m going to try to do the same thing here that I did in Chicago, which is to produce and help the team win.”
Michael Hunt is a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist