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Cleveland Indians notebook: Ramirez gets first big-league start

CLEVELAND: Jose Ramirez made his first major-league start Monday night at third base.

“I’ve been wanting to get him into a game,” manager Terry Francona said. “I was going to put him at shortstop [Sunday], but Asdrubal [Cabrera] hit that home run [Saturday night].”

Ramirez is a career shortstop, but Francona was confident that he could play third.

“He played third a few games at Akron at the end of the season,” the manager said. “Neither Lonnie [Chisenhall] nor Mike [Aviles] have any numbers against him [Ervin Santana], so I’m excited to see Ramirez play.”

This is not a first step in making Ramirez a third baseman.

“This isn’t going to define his career,” Francona said. “He’s not going to be an everyday third baseman.”

Few players, especially 20-year-olds, are called up from Double-A to the majors.

“We’re all excited about the way he handles himself,” Francona said. “He handled himself well in spring training, and he handled himself well when he got sent back [to the minor-league camp]. We all think that this kid can do it.”

UPGRADED — The Royals began Monday night’s game only 1½ games behind the Tribe, which means they remain in the race for a wild-card berth.

“They’re better now,” Francona said. “Early in the year, their offense wasn’t clicking. But they can steal a lot of bases and hit the ball out of the park.”

The Royals also made a significant move over the winter, acquiring starter James Shields.

“It’s hard to give away one of your best prospects,” Francona said. “But Shields is as close to a guaranteed 200-inning guy as you’re going to get.”

TRIVIA PURSUIT — According to Elias Sports Bureau, Jason Giambi is the oldest player in major-league history to get his 2,000th hit. Carlton Fisk held that distinction, producing No. 2,000 at age 41. Giambi is 42.

— Sheldon Ocker


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