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Last year was a forgettable season for Aramis Ramirez – unfortunately, it was anything but forgettable for the rest of us. Ramirez struggled out the gate, and took months to regain something close to his usual form. Looking back, I think it’s safe to say we can chalk a good portion of it up to normal variance, bad luck, and a lingering thumb problem.

At the time, however, folks felt like Ramirez wasn’t working particularly hard to get back on track (he doesn’t exactly have the reputation of a hard worker). Specifically, Ramirez did not go to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (the same was true of struggling first baseman Derrek Lee). As a veteran, Ramirez felt he was his best coach – and he caught a lot of flack for that attitude.

Well, coming into a new season, which is essentially a contract year for Ramirez, he’d like to clear the air.

“[Rudy and I] never had a problem,” Ramirez said via said recently. “People think because I struggled early last year, I didn’t go to Rudy. I worked with him and listened to him. At the same time, I know what I have to do to be ready. I have almost 12 years in the big leagues so when I’m struggling, I know, 90, 99 percent of the time, I know what I’m doing wrong.

“Rudy can help,” Ramirez went on, “but I’m the one who goes to the plate and has to make the adjustments. Just to make it clear, me and Rudy never had a problem. I never in my career had any problem with any coach, manager, hitting coach, nobody.”

It sounds like Ramirez doesn’t want to come right out and say he doesn’t need Jaramillo because he doesn’t want to bad mouth a guy he probably likes, but – Ramirez is basically saying he doesn’t really need Jaramillo. At least the two don’t have a beef.

“I don’t know how that came up,” Jaramillo said. “We’re great. I just praise the kid and the way he’s gone about things — it’s been awesome.”

I presume Jaramillo got that I-call-men-who-are-in-their-30s-a-kid stuff from Lou.

In the end, it’s more than fair to expect a bounce back year from Ramirez, who showed up to camp in good shape, and with seven or eight pounds of additional muscle. And if he’s healthy, there’s little reason to believe Ramirez won’t be the best hitter on the Cubs once again this year.

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