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Jeter passes torch to Chicago's Ramirez

7/16/2014
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, in town to do some broadcast work, recognized a Chicago beat writer he knew and yelled, “Hey man, when are you going to start writing about my boy Alexei? This guy’s been good for five or six years. Nobody talks about him.”

Guillen must be right; Alexei Ramirez must be good. He took the place of a future Hall of Famer in an All-Star Game, after all.

In the third inning, American League manager John Farrell approached Ramirez on the bench and told him he would be replacing Derek Jeter the next inning. That’s kind of how All-Star Games work. The starters go a few innings, and then, in comes the cavalry.

But this wasn’t just any substitution. Jeter was allowed to take his shortstop position before Ramirez went out to replace him, the game was paused for several minutes while “New York, New York” blared over the Target Field speakers, and everybody in the stadium –- players from both leagues included –- gave Jeter a standing ovation. It was the moment of the 2014 All-Star Game -- Jeter’s last -- and none of it was lost on Ramirez, who grew up in Cuba.

Ramirez admitted he was nervous when told he’d be in the middle of such a grand spectacle.

“To go out there and take the place of a baseball legend was a tremendous honor,” he said through an interpreter. “I just bowed my head to show my respect. It was a great moment.”

Ramirez, a defensive whiz, has begun to show his offensive value in recent seasons. Batting .282 with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases so far this season, he was picked for his first All-Star Game, and he made the selection look like a solid one. He doubled down the left field line and scored the final run in the American League’s 5-3 win.