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.




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