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Aramis makes Wrigley return as opponent

Aramis makes Wrigley return as opponent

Aramis makes Wrigley return as opponent
CHICAGO -- It had been nine years since Aramis Ramirez dressed in the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley Field, but it wasn't altogether foreign. Ramirez, after all, played parts of six seasons with the Pirates before his near-decade as the Cubs third baseman.

He returned to Wrigley as a visitor on Monday as the Brewers and Cubs opened a four-game series.

"It's different," Ramirez said. "I spent most of the time in my career, almost nine years, here, on the other side. Being in the visitor's clubhouse is a little weird."

He received a mixed and muted reception from Cubs fans before lifting a sacrifice fly in the first inning for a 1-0 Brewers lead. Ramirez also delivered an RBI double in the sixth inning and finished 1-for-3 in Milwaukee's 7-5 win.

Ramirez hit 239 home runs in a Cubs uniform, sixth on the franchise leaderboard behind some big names: Sammy Sosa, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg. He left via free agency last winter after new Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made clear to Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, that the club was going young.

Before the game, Ramirez wasn't sure what to expect from the Wrigley Field faithful.

"It's not that I don't care; it's just that I can't control it," Ramirez said. "I guess you have to ask that question to the fans, if they don't appreciate the way I played, what I did. It's up to them. I think I did pretty good here."

He said he has fond memories of his years in Chicago, loved playing at Wrigley Field and is puzzled about why the Cubs did not experience more postseason success during his tenure.

His first year wound up being the Cubs' best. Ramirez arrived midway through the 2003 season, when the Cubs were five outs from the World Series only to lose the "Bartman" game and eventually the National League Championship Series against the Marlins. The Cubs won the NL Central in 2007 and 2008 but were swept in the NL Division Series both times.

"We had some good teams, especially in '08. We won 97 ballgames and that was a pretty good team," Ramirez said. "For some reason, we can't get it going in the playoffs."

Of the Cubs' rebuilding effort, he said, "They've got a game plan, I'm sure. Hopefully it works. I don't know how long it's going to take, but any time you go with young players, it's going to take a while."

Ramirez is trying to get it going for his new team. He's forming a remodeled left side of the infield in Milwaukee with Alex Gonzalez, and both veterans were limited to one hit in the Brewers' season-opening series against the Cardinals.

"I like their personalities, I like how they fit in and I like what they know about the game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "They're both very smart guys."

Smart enough to understand that one weekend does not make a season.

"No it doesn't," Roenicke said. "That's the difference between the veteran guys who have good years every year, and the guy who panics after a while when he doesn't do well."

Said Ramirez: "I haven't got the results that I want to, but I think I'm going to get better and we're going to get better."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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