"I never had that kind of first half before," said Ramirez, who batted .207 before the All-Star break. "I was expecting a lot more from myself. I got healthy and I feel strong."
This is the final year of the third baseman's contract with the Cubs, and he's not sure if this will be his last. Ramirez, 32, made it clear he doesn't want to play anywhere else.
"There's no other place I want to be," he said. "We'll see what happens. I'm still under contract for this year."
Is this year different, though, because it's the last year of Ramirez's deal?
"Not really," he said. "I just want to stay healthy and go out there and try to win ballgames. There is some stuff you can't control. The only thing I can control is going out there and playing the game."
Cubs manager Mike Quade made a point of checking on the third baseman Saturday. Ramirez was one of the last to arrive at Fitch Park.
"I look a guy in the eye and say, 'How do you feel?' Quade said. "And he said, 'I feel great, no physical problems.' That's a pretty good first day for me for a guy we're going to count so heavily on. I felt good about it, and I think he does."
Ever since Albert Pujols rejected the Cardinals' latest contract offer, there has been speculation that the Cubs will bid on the soon-to-be free agent.
"How many Major Leaguers are there? Like 300?" Ramirez said. "If you ask all of them, everybody wants Pujols on their team. At the same time, we have Carlos Pena here. You've got to respect your teammate. That's tough when you already have a first baseman here.
"But to answer your question, anybody would like Pujols."