GLENDALE, Ariz. -- From time to time, Alexei Ramirez logs on to his computer and takes a quick trip over to eBay.
Ramirez is not in search of a slightly used DVD copy of "Casino" or a signed picture of Christina Applegate or an authentic Paul Konerko rookie card, which all probably could be had for the right price on the site.
No, the White Sox shortstop's pursuit falls upon one item -- a gold medal from the 2004 Summer Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece. That particular medal belongs to Ramirez as part of Cuba's champion baseball squad.
But in Ramirez's travels from the Dominican Republic to Miami to Chicago, after departing Cuba and signing with the White Sox prior to the 2008 season, Ramirez's gold medal disappeared. It was placed in a special case with approximately 15 other medals won during Ramirez's competitive days in his homeland.
"The only thing missing was that one," Ramirez told MLB.com of the medal theft, through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "That was the first thing I was looking for when I got to Chicago, and as soon as I saw it wasn't there, I went crazy."
In conducting a thorough search for this precious medal, Ramirez was asked if there was some way he or his wife, Mildred, could have accidentally left it behind while packing up all of their family's belongings. Alexei smiled and said no without any need of a translator.
When asked if someone in Miami or Chicago could be in possession of a gold medal he or she didn't earn, Ramirez once again smiled before responding. This smile was one born more of frustrated resignation.
"Possibly so," Ramirez said.
Cuba defeated Australia by a 6-2 margin back in Greece to win the gold. Japan captured the bronze with an 11-2 victory over Canada, after Australia upset Japan in the semifinals.
Fellow Major Leaguers such as Graeme Lloyd, David Nilsson and Ryan Rowland-Smith suited up for Australia, while Hiroki Kuroda, Koji Uehara and Kosuke Fukudome were part of the Japanese team. Fukudome now sits one locker over from Ramirez at Camelback Ranch and is a new White Sox teammate.
Japan actually defeated Cuba in the preliminary round, with Daisuke Matsuzaka getting the victory. Facing Matsuzaka stood out as one of Ramirez's true Olympic highlights, surpassed only by winning the gold.
"That was probably one of the most exciting experiences that I've had, because not everyone has the opportunity to be on an Olympic team," Ramirez said. "Not only that, but to actually win it. So for me, that was really incredible."
Now, the passion to find a replacement medal almost has become as intense as actually winning it for Ramirez. The White Sox became involved in the process last summer upon first hearing the story from Ramirez.
Senior vice president of communications Scott Reifert enlisted help in the matter from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who recommended Ramirez draft a letter with the team's help that explained the circumstances, and then he would get it to Peter Ueberroth, who was the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee until 2008. Reinsdorf knew Ueberroth from the days when he served as Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1984-89.
"Getting the original back is probably not in the plan," Reifert said. "I think it spoke to what it meant to him. It spoke to probably some of his history and his own personal pride and the accomplishment. I think it's kind of a sad story, and it seemed like a neat thing if we could make it happen, so why not try?"
Nothing yet has come of that inquiry.
MLB.com contacted an official of the USOC on Wednesday, receiving an explanation that Ramirez needed to petition the Cuban National Olympic Committee and not the USOC for the International Olympic Committee to issue another gold medal. Olympic competition is highly delineated by territory or national committees, so having the USOC ask for a medal for Ramirez would be like the USOC asking for a medal for an Austrian downhill skier now living in the United States who won a medal while competing for his or her native country.
It just doesn't happen. When apprised of Ramirez's particular relationship to Cuba, the official added that Ramirez could petition the IOC directly. The USOC official also said that he would check with the IOC to see if anything more could be done in this situation.
Even if finding the original gold medal seems like a pipe dream at this point, Ramirez has no problems adding a replacement to his medal case. That case presently includes a Louisville Silver Slugger Award as the American League's top hitting shortstop from two years ago.
"Actually, having a copy would be the same thing," Ramirez said. "You look at a picture with the championship. You see me there with it. That to me is the same. Whether it's a copy or the original, just to have it, I would be ecstatic."
Of course, there is one more remote possibility for retrieval. If this gold medal indeed was stolen, maybe the culprit somehow will hear Ramirez's plea and send it back to the White Sox with no questions asked by their shortstop.
"Just return my medal," said Ramirez, who counts it as one of his most prized possessions. "I would be really happy. I won't say anything."