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Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been dogged for two things this year: a total lack of power and a perceived lack of effort.

Could both be explained by an injury?

Ramirez, who played aggressively in April, told the Sun-Times on Thursday that he’s been battling a tight left hamstring since early in the last homestand.

It’s why manager Mike Quade held back bench guy Blake DeWitt on Tuesday night when he used Carlos Zambrano to pinch-hit and why Ramirez got Thursday off on a 42-degree day.

‘‘It’s harder when you get older. It happens to everybody,’’ Ramirez, 33, said, ‘‘especially playing a lot of day games, and it doesn’t help when it’s cold and raining and 30 degrees every day.’’

He’s hitting .290 but has struggled with men in scoring position and hasn’t homered since the first week. But he says that has nothing to do with the hamstring, even if power usually starts with the lower body.

‘‘It does, but I don’t want to make excuses,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel good enough to drive the ball. I hit the ball on the line and hit the ball hard. I guess that’s a swing that I’ve got to find.’’ Chicago Sun-Times.

Obviously the hamstring will be something to keep an eye one – “tightness” can become a strain with one awkward lunge.

In fact, Ramirez might already be in “strain” territory, but we’d never know about it. Recall, Ramirez played through his thumb injury for months last year – racking up terrible numbers along the way – before finally agreeing to spend some time on the disabled list. He’s an enigma that way: one the one hand, he seems relatively uninterested in the game of baseball, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to miss time due to injury.

If he continues to feel tightness, the Cubs would be well-served allowing him to take a couple weeks off. Last year, when he returned from finally sitting out with his thumb injury, he looked like the old Aramis Ramirez.

Right now, he just looks like an old Aramis Ramirez. He’s hitting just .290/.349/.379, with one home run and 17 RBI. If that doesn’t scream clean-up hitter, I don’t know what does.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Thankfully, this will be his last season with the Cubs.

  • seanmf

    I never get the impression that A-Ram isn’t trying or isn’t interested in baseball. He loves to hit and he always makes clean plays at third base. I think you need to give the dude some credit.

    • Ace

      Over the length of his time with the Cubs, I’ve given Aramis all the credit he’s due, so please try not to judge me based on one post. None of his successes – and there are many – put him above criticism. At times, he appears enthusiastic about the game. At times, he appears uninterested. Fair or unfair, that’s how it looks.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        He also has this nasty habit of sucking with RISP.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    I had a dream that the Cubs got David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

  • Michigan Goat

    The most disappointing thing about ARam is he was given the key to “Great Cub Executive Washroom” but never used it. He was the type player we love to honor in the mid- 2000’s. He hit for average, power, great glove, and serious clutch there for a couple of years. We wanted him to be a Cub legend, but he never took the spotlight and was never a vocal leader and now he is the back third of his career and he is showing what is expected for an aging veteran and I believe we would forgive him for this downward trend, EXCEPT he never embraced what we fans were willing to give and now looks like a listless player. It’s ashame but it’s time for him to go.

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      MG, that’s a great assessment of ARam, and sums up my feelings exactly.

      When I think about that game winning HR against the Brewers back in 2007… the one that changed the course of that season (and the Brewers’ next two)… *sigh*. What could have been! But then he went from clutch-ARam to pop-out-to-second-with runners-on-2nd-and-3rd-ARam… *sigh*.

      • Michigan Goat

        And we would forgive thus IF he embraced the role as leader… Imagine if he was as vocal and acted as a mentor to Castro and Barney. Instead he will just be another Cub with a couple of great years and he won’t be remember outside of us die-hard fans in 50 years.

        And yes that home run, was epic I can remember Santo’s excitement… It seems do long ago.

  • Jeff

    I’ve thought he looked like he was playing injured for the last couple of series, but just wrote it off as his usual disinterested style. I think it’s about time for Aramis to move on to the final phase of his career and move to the American League. I think he’s got DH/part time fielder written all over him, it might even help his bat to not have to play the field every day, and he could quit whining about the day games if he’s not playing for the Cubs anymore.

  • 1060Ivy

    For Aramis to transition to a DH role, he would have to show some power and RBI production and that hasn’t happened this year. 1 HR and 17 RBIs in 44 games ain’t going to cut it as a DH with almost 3/4 of Aramis hits being singles.

  • awesome

    ‘‘It’s harder when you get older. It happens to everybody,’’ Ramirez, 33, said, ‘‘especially playing a lot of day games, and it doesn’t help when it’s cold and raining and 30 degrees every day.’’

    lol, sounds like an excuse to me. he’s making every excuse players make when they aren’t doing the job.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Personally you guys are writing him off..you want Josh vitters who hasnt done shit! Blake dewitt? There’s no body in the fa market to sign..aramis is always a second half player… If he does leave that is a huge holevto fill..so becareful what you wish for!

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    The Cubs will be able to get similar or better production from whoever plays 3B next season for a lot less money. Ramirez is as good as gone.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    I disagree Raymond..you tell me who? There is nobody in the fa market…keep me posted when ya find somebody..not just a bat.. Ya need a glove…even though I like baker..his glove is questionable

    • Hogan

      Yeah, where would we ever find a 290 hitter with no power and maybe slightly above average D? If we get 3/4 of the production out of a young unproven and save 15 mill, I am all for it. You are absolutely right, there are no better options on the free agent market but there are a ton of cheaper options available.

      Lets see if Flaherty or DJ (who has been playing a ton of 3rd) can keep it up in AA… maybe a promotion to AAA at midseason…maybe take a chance on a young guy for next year?

      • Ace

        The amount of third DJ has been playing is either related to the emergence of Darwin Barney or the retraction of Aramis Ramirez. Or both. Either way, it’s very, very interesting.

    • Ace

      For his current (and probable future) production there are literally dozens of options – all of whom cost much less than Ramirez. And, as Hendry says, it’s all about production…

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Doesn’t matter who. His salary will be lower and his defense will be better. Ramirez is just going through the motions. Watching ground balls he should be fielding going into LF. Now he’s using a phantom injury and the weather and day games as an excuse. Bye, Aramis.

  • EQ

    anybody think Jeff Baker at 3B would be a good option next year? Financially, he’s cheap and he’s always hit.. maybe the Cubs can go after Prince Fielder at 1B and a good outfielder via a trade or FA, and spend the rest of the money on pitching.. shoot, the Giants just won the World Series with dominant pitching.. why can’t we go that route?

  • Deez

    I say see what The Farm System has. You draft them let’s see if we can develop them & get them to the show. We are not 1 player away more like 3 or 4. Plus, if we get any good FAs, you can not expect no more than 2-3 years of good productivity out of him on a 5year contract but doesn’t necessarily means playoffs either.
    I would rather have our kids playing & gettin High draft picks w/ them instead of having the $100M payroll & stil getting high draft picks. I wanna see what Vitters, Mahieu, Flaherty, McNutt, BrettJack, JayJack, Szczur have

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