Smoke Signals: José Ramírez carries on, laughs off report, continues tear

Also: Mike Clevinger looks for balance

Alex Hooper
May 29, 2018 - 10:33 pm
May 29, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) hits a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Distractions are only such if you let them be. For Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, there are no distractions, there is only baseball.

After what would be a trying afternoon for many, fending off bogus reports of PED use, the third-place vote-getter in the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player race hit the field and did his job. Ramirez is also elite at his job, and played as such hours after a short-lived whirlwind.

Ramirez doubled and homered on Tuesday night in the Indians’ 7-3 win over the Chicago White Sox, all but laughing off the internet being the internet.

Then he literally laughed it off after laughing it off initially.

“To be honest with you, yeah, my first reaction was to laugh a little bit, because for me, the way I took it, when things are going well for you in baseball, there's always going to be random things that pop up or people trying to find something that will bring attention to you,” Ramirez said. “So, yeah, my first reaction was to laugh a little bit. I just let it go.”

The solo shot in the 5th inning made Ramirez the fastest Indians hitter to 16 home runs since David Justice in 1997, who also did it in 53 games. It was the 25-year-old’s 16th multi-hit game and 8th such with multiple extra-base hits.

More or less, it was just another day for the switch-hitter, except with a chat with the manager and president of the organization. The meeting unsurprisingly also included a laugh.

“He didn’t skip a beat,” Manager Terry Francona said. “Even when we were talking to him, he just laughed. We kind of wanted to talk a little bit about it and he’s like, ‘I’m fine.’ I don’t think a whole lot bothers him. Put him on a baseball field, let him play baseball and he’s good to go.”

The All-Star’s relaxation was sincere, as he waited for reporters at his locker with a smile as, while Francona and starting pitcher Mike Clevinger wrapped up scheduled post-game interviews. Ramirez was as jovial as ever when the media gathered around him, and expressed that he remained unbothered.

“I should say that I feel bad that it came out, but I'm really not worried about it,” he said. “I do feel bad for any fan that maybe got a wrong impression of me, but that's bad information. I've never used anything like that. So, at the end of the day, I feel fine and relaxed about myself and I'm just going to keep doing my thing and keep focusing on baseball and keep going forward.”

Lilo and Stitch, Yin and Yang

It is hard to tell when looking at Mike Clevinger that he is intense, let along that the intensity could ever be a problem for him.

The same long-haired man who discussed the merits of Disney’s Lilo and Stitch while wearing a shirt displaying the two loveable characters has admitted to needing to find balance on the mound.

Clevinger has had trouble at times retiring batters in stretches of three or four at-bats over the course of a lone inning in each start. He has chalked the issue up to becoming too fired up on the mound, has searched for the ‘happy medium’ between too intense and too relaxed.

He seemed to find it on Tuesday, at least for the night, tossing his seventh quality start in 11 outings in 2018, and the balancing act started pre-game.

“I tried to take a more Kluber-esque approach and it was a little bit too low for me at times and I had to pick it back up and make sure I wasn’t finding the highs of highs, just that middle ground,” Clevinger said. “They’re great examples, especially Kluber. You wouldn’t know it he punched out 15 or gave up five and that’s kind of the way you want to be, just even-keel.”

The righty entered the game tied for 17th in fWAR among pitchers at 1.4, and the number will surely only rise with another exceptional outing. It will continue to rise with the mental balance he seeks.

“That’s been the main goal right now, just the last, not the last hurdle, the hurdle that’s been in front of me lately is just limiting the damage when it starts to pile up,” he said. “Just kind of keeping my composure and staying within myself.”