During his first six seasons with the White Sox, Alexei Ramirez never got off to a great start with the bat.
The shortstop had a .250 career average in April, his lowest of any month during the season.
This year has been different.
Not only does Ramirez lead the American League with a .351 batting average, but he also broke Paul Konerko's franchise record Wednesday with his 40th hit in April.
"I didn't know anything about it until yesterday," Ramirez said after going 1-for-4 in the Sox' 5-1 loss to the Tigers. "Paul Konerko told me about it and I just kept going the same way I've been going. I think it's been one of my best starts. I give credit to the work I've done, so it's a great thing."
If Ramirez gains momentum from his strong opening month, he could be in for a great season.
"He always has hot months," said Konerko, who had 39 April hits in 2002. "They usually come later in the year. There's no telling what he can do this year if he's off to the start he's off to because it has always taken him a couple months to heat up and he's already clicking.
"I see him pulling the ball. He always hits the ball hard when he pulls it. I see him keeping a lot of balls fair that sometimes he hooks. So there's something there with his swing that's better that's keeping those balls true and in play."
Chris Sale (flexor muscle strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday when the White Sox are in Cleveland, but the ace starting pitcher still hasn't thrown off a mound and his return remains up in the air.
Considering he hasn't appeared in a game since April 14, when he threw a career-high 127 pitches against Boston, Sale will likely need to go to the minor leagues for a start before rejoining the White Sox.
"I think if you keep going, he might end up getting to a point where he might have to go do one rehab start, something short," manager Robin Ventura said. "In the past we've done some simulated games, which would have to happen first and we would talk about that. If it keeps going further and further, we'll probably get closer to doing a rehab assignment."
Sale again declined to talk to reporters Wednesday, but he did say he's feeling OK.
Getting it right:
The White Sox won their first replay challenge of the season during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.
Manager Robin Ventura lost his first four challenge requests.
After Adam Eaton drew a walk against Tigers starter Max Scherzer, Gordon Beckham dropped a single into center field. Eaton held up until the ball hit the ground and appeared to slide safely into second base ahead of Austin Jackson's throw.
Second-base umpire Jerry Layne called Eaton out, but the call was quickly overturned when Ventura challenged.