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Aramis to play early and often in Cactus League

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PHOENIX -- Aramis Ramirez laughed at the fan-suggested cure for his traditionally slow starts -- that Ramirez celebrate his June birthday before the Brewers break Spring Training camp.

Ramirez has a more serious idea: he plans to pile up at-bats in the Cactus League in an effort to be swinging a hot bat by Opening Day.

"You're going to see me a lot," Ramirez said.

The veteran slugger already told Brewers manager Ron Roenicke that he wants to man third base for Saturday's Cactus League opener against the A's at Maryvale Baseball Park. Roenicke surveyed some of the team's veterans and gave them the option to push back their spring debuts because of the extended length of this year's camp.

Ramirez wants to play. He will ease into games as usual, playing only a few innings at first, but intends to set a personal record for Cactus League at-bats.

"I'm not going to do anything stupid, but that's what I think I'm going to try," Ramirez said. "I don't know how many [at-bats] I had last year. I have to look that up. So, we'll see if this works."

We looked it up for him, and Ramirez logged 55 at-bats last season in 20 exhibition games. Doesn't he worry about doing too much early and wearing out by the end of the season?

"No," he said. "If you work hard and take care of yourself, there's no reason for you to get tired. I never feel tired during the season, and if you look at my numbers, they're better later on in the year. I feel tired here and there, but it's not like I'm going to drop my production because of that."

Ramirez's worst career monthly batting average (.257) and on-base percentage (.328) are in April, and his worst slugging percentage (.450) is in May. Compare that to August, when Ramirez has hit .305/.367/.547.

So that suggestion about an early birthday party was intriguing.

"Hey, you never know," Ramirez said. "You can't lose anything by trying."

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