CHICAGO -- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez took a break on Thursday and was sitting on the Brewers' most productive .091 batting average. Ramirez had only two hits in his first 22 at-bats, but drove in five runs in the Brewers' first six games, two of them coming with two outs. Ramirez calls himself a slow starter -- a career .257 batting average over the first month bears that out -- and predicted he would heat up with the weather. "I don't want to use that as an excuse," Ramirez said Thursday, when right fielder Corey Hart filled in as Milwaukee's cleanup hitter. "I should be better. I'm going to work to get better. We're 4-2, and that's what matters. I'll get better. I'll get my swing back."
The Brewers signed Ramirez to a three-year contract in December to help replace some of the offense that longtime first baseman Prince Fielder took to Detroit. Manager Ron Roenicke conferred with Ramirez before deciding that Thursday was a good choice for a routine day off. After their four-game series at windy, chilly Wrigley Field, where Ramirez played his past eight full seasons with the Cubs, the Brewers were looking forward to warmer days ahead. They play three games in Atlanta beginning Friday, then return to the comfort of the Miller Park dome for a nine-game homestand. "This should be the last series we have in cold weather," Ramirez said of his return to Wrigley.