Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ramirez Debuts in New Position

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ramirez Debuts in New Position

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI - The old dog finally has a new trick. Tuesday, in his 2,105th major-league start, 37-year-old Aramis Ramirez played first base for the first time in his life, starting there and batting cleanup for the Pirates against the Cincinnati Reds.

"Tonight's the night," Ramirez said before the game.

Ramirez, who plans to retire after this season, signed with the Pirates in 1994 and has played only third base and designated hitter over the past 21 years in the majors and minors, save one game at shortstop in 1998 for Class AAA Nashville.

"I don't know where it's going to go," manager Clint Hurdle said. "But I wanted to make sure that we looked at all our options moving forward."

Before the game Tuesday, Ramirez was batting .258 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 35 games since being traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Pirates July 23. Hurdle said Ramirez arguably has been the team's "best run-producer" since joining the team.

Ramirez first took grounders at first base Aug. 13 in St. Louis, working out with Pedro Alvarez, who gave some pointers on playing the position. In 2014, Alvarez also moved from third base to first.

"He's a [heck] of an athlete," Alvarez said of Ramirez Aug. 13. "I don"t see him having any issues at all. It'll just be a matter of him getting enough repetitions and then eventually, obviously, some game reps. But, hey, I'm looking to learn some things from him, and we can learn from each other."

On Aug. 29, Hurdle said the Pirates weren't in a rush to give Ramirez a look at first. The initial plan, he said then, was to have Ramirez try first just in case Alvarez had gotten injured.

Alvarez, batting .244 with 22 home runs this season, closed August with a 2-for-25 slide and has a .263 average in September. Alvarez's error Monday was his 19th this season, tied for most by a first baseman since 1999.

Infield coach Nick Leyva said Ramirez's biggest challenge, as it was for Alvarez, will be figuring out how far right he should range for grounders. …

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