Manny, Cabrera AL Players of the Week
Monster weeks at the plate net sluggers shared honor
Two game-winning home runs and a two-homer game in Yankee Stadium highlighted an impressive week for Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez.
And for a slugger who says he doesn't consider himself a home run hitter, Ramirez is a mere four knocks away from becoming the 24th member of the illustrious 500 home-run club.
"I'm a pure hitter," Ramirez has said. "I could be whatever I wanted to be. If I wanted to hit 50 home runs or 40 home runs every year, I'd do it. But I don't want to. I want to be a pure hitter and hit it to all fields."
The left fielder showcased the broad spectrum of his bat last week, and for his efforts was named one of the American League co-Players of the Week, sharing the award with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.
An 11-time AL All-Star, Ramirez racked up 23 total bases, a .958 slugging percentage, a double and seven runs scored, helping Boston post a 6-1 record for the week of April 13.
"He's one of the best hitters I've ever seen and that will continue for probably as long as he wants it to," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's that type of hitter. He's in great shape."
Ramirez has also put Boston in great shape, twice blasting winning home runs to put the defending World Series champs on top. Last Monday, the right-handed hitter smashed a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning to power past Cleveland, 6-4. His aforementioned two-run blast over Texas came just five days later.
In between, Ramirez helped the Sox exorcise an old demon. The left fielder went 3-for-5 with two home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored in the Red Sox's 7-5 win over the rival Yankees on Thursday.
"It's pretty impressive what he's doing right now," said Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, following Saturday night's game. "Regardless of what you say about that guy, he prepares better than anybody and is more focused than anybody as a hitter I've ever seen. That's incredible what he's doing right now."
As of Sunday, Ramirez had a Major League-leading nine go-ahead RBIs and an MLB-best six game-winning RBIs. Although the weekly honor is the 16th of his career, Ramirez isn't even close to slowing down.
"I feel good," he said Sunday, when asked about his foreseeable future. That's scary news for the rest of the AL, as pitchers throughout the Majors have struggled to contain his powerful swing.
"Manny's one of those guys, he's as good a hitter as anyone there is in baseball," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "When he gets hot, there's no way to get him out. There's no particular pattern to get him."
Cabrera has also been riding a hot streak, providing a bright spot in the Tigers early-season slump. After a slow start, the third baseman's bat came back in a big way last week, going .429 with four doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs in the week.
"He's getting his confidence back," teammate Magglio Ordonez said, following a win last Tuesday. "You have to understand it's his first year in the American League. He's facing different pitchers. The American League's not easy. He's getting better every day."
The four-time National League All-Star is hitting .279 with 13 RBIs and three home runs on the season after going 12-for-28 last week. "That's what I need, good at-bats at the right time, doing my best," Cabrera said, following last Wednesday's game.
His best has been impressive, as Cabrera's latest blast off of Indians ace C.C. Sabathia on Wednesday wowed fans and teammates alike. The right-handed hitter took a fastball over the right-field fence with a seemingly easy swing.
When asked how many players can hit a ball like that, Gary Sheffield replied, "Not too many."
Cabrera went on to go 4-for-6 with five RBIs and two runs scored in the 13-2 Tigers romp, a performance that helped the 25-year- old garner his fifth career weekly award, his first in the AL.
Other players considered were Ramirez's teammate Kevin Youkilis, Chicago's Jim Thome, and Jeter.
Among the pitchers nominated for the weekly award were Angels right-hander Ervin Santana and White Sox southpaw John Danks.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.