Setback For Ramirez

Prospect shows power before injury

LAKELAND, Fla.—For eight games, Wilkin Ramirez and his impressive tools were on display—right alongside Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera.

Ramirez, a 22-year-old outfielder, performed brilliantly in his first big league camp, with a .438 batting average, two home runs and eight RBIs.

At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Ramirez showed plus speed on the bases, and his raw power was evident as he homered in back-to-back games against Tampa Bay and Houston. When asked about his success, Ramirez credited help from Tigers players and coaches.

"If you see those guys hitting, and you pay attention to what they're doing and what they say to you, you're going to (learn)," he said.

However, his hot streak ended abruptly on March 7. In the third inning of Detroit's 9-6 victory over Atlanta, Chipper Jones sent a line drive into shallow left field. Ramirez sprinted and dove as he attempted to make a run-saving catch. The ball landed just in front of him, and his left shoulder slammed into the turf.

Ramirez left the game and was later diagnosed with a subluxation, or partial dislocation, of the shoulder.

"It's too bad, because he's had a hell of a camp," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said after the game. "He's made us take notice, so we'll watch him. He'll be all right for the season, and we'll monitor what he does. We like him a lot."

Once he recovers, Ramirez will likely begin at Double-A Erie, where he finished the 2007 season.

Ramirez has been in the minors since 2003 but played more than 70 games in only two of those seasons. He missed all of 2004 because of right shoulder surgery and was out for the second half of the 2006 season after sustaining a deep shin bruise.


• Righthander Preston Larrison allowed one earned run in his first seven relief innings this spring. "He's got a good sinker, and he's got to make sure it sinks," Leyland said. "He's got to make sure he keeps the ball down. If he does that consistently, he's a big league pitcher. If he doesn't, he'll be a perennial prospect."

• After an offseason in which the organization traded away several top prospects, Leyland said he was impressed by several position players who were invited to big league camp. "I've seen four or five guys who I would label prospects," he said.