Alexei Ramirez gifted new medal

CHICAGO -- Shortstop Alexei Ramirez was surprised by the Chicago White Sox organization, which presented him with a replacement gold medal from the 2004 summer Olympics.

Ramirez and his peers on the Cuban national earned the distinction by defeating Australia in the 2004 gold-medal game in Athens, Greece. Shortly after, the shortstop defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic. The original gold medal was lost in 2007.

The White Sox brought in Ramirez's former teammate and fellow Cuban Jose Contreras for a brief ceremony that took place before batting practice in front of the entire team. Jerry Reinsdorf, the team's chairman, presented the 30-year-old infielder with the new gold medal, which Reinsdorf purchased.

"He was really down because this thing (had) been stolen or lost," Reinsdorf said. "You could tell by his immediate reaction how much (the new medal) meant to him."

Ramirez expressed gratitude for the White Sox's efforts.

"I was really choked up and felt like I was in Athens again," Ramirez said through a translator. "Winning a gold medal in the Olympics was really special to me."

The White Sox started the process of getting the new medal made four months ago at the behest of Reinsdorf and Scott Reifert, the team's VP of communications.

"We had to file an application with the International Olympic Committee who asked for a report on when it was lost and the circumstances around it." said Lou Hernandez, the White Sox's director of public relations. "Then it goes to the International Olympic Museum for the final approval ."

Ramirez signed a four-year deal with the White Sox as a free agent in January of 2008. He is a career .273 hitter.