Being part of the Cuban baseball team that won Olympic gold in 2004 in Athens was a dream come true for Alexei Ramirez.

Losing the medal in 2007 was his tormenting nightmare.

The medal was lost when the White Sox shortstop's wife was traveling to Chicago from the Dom­inican Republic, where they first settled after defecting from Cuba.

''He really was devastated over this,'' Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said.

But on Friday, Reinsdorf and the Sox surprised Ramirez with a duplicate medal presentation, the result of three months of work to obtain one from the International Olympic Committee.

It was all the more special for a tearful Ramirez because his mentor and close friend, former Sox pitcher Jose Contreras, was the one handing it to him.

''I wasn't expecting this,'' Ramirez said, adding that he was doubly surprised seeing Contreras. ''I spoke to him this morning and he said he was in Los Angeles. So when I saw him with the medal, it left me speechless.''

Since spring, Sox community relations director Lou Hernandez had led the effort to get the replacement medal. Reinsdorf paid all the costs.