Ramirez, Anderson pleasant surprises

Ramirez, Anderson pleasant surprises

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has seen just about everything there is in the game of baseball.

That's why it was a little surprising to see Guillen's eyes open wide when the skipper raved about center fielder Alexei Ramirez.

Guillen considers Ramirez the biggest and most pleasant surprise from Spring Training.

"I look at him and say, 'There's a baseball player,'" Guillen said. "He knows what it takes to perform at this level. He proved me wrong. I had no idea he would do this good so early."

What Guillen likes most about Ramirez is his versatility. With Juan Uribe locking down the spot at shortstop, Guillen said he approached Ramirez about becoming the center fielder.

Ramirez had two hits in the White Sox's 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Ramirez is hitting .364 this spring and is second to only Jim Thome in RBIs with 18. Thome has 19 RBIs.

"I'm very surprised at how easy the game has been for Alexei," third baseman Joe Crede said. "All that does is add more depth to our team. You can never have too much of that."

Ramirez, a 26-year-old exile from Cuba, signed a four-year deal in December. He has played in the outfield and could also see time at second base.

Guillen said any worries he had about Ramirez went away after the manner in which Ramirez battled Oakland ace, Rich Harden, early during the spring.

"He's a free-swinger and makes sure he gets his cuts in," Guillen said. "But he looked so comfortable out there."

Ramirez showed he's more than just offense, too, gunning down the Rangers' Marlon Byrd at home plate in the seventh inning on Friday night, preserving a 5-4 lead.

But what Guillen said he likes more than anything else is Ramirez's mind for the game.

"He's not one of those guys who you say, 'Oh, he looks great in the uniform,'" Guillen said. "He gets everything he can from his abilities."

Another welcome surprise has been Brian Anderson. Despite an 0-for-4 outing Friday, Anderson is still hitting .324 this spring.

"Everything just became too mental for me," Anderson said about his struggles last season. Anderson hit .118 in limited action in 2007.

"You try to do too much when it comes to slumps," Anderson said. "You start watching too many people. You need to just stay true to what you do."

Anderson said he feels more comfortable than he ever has in his Major League career.

Bob Przybylo is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.