FORT MYERS – Add Cesar Ramos’ name to the list of candidates for the fifth starter’s spot in the Tampa Bay Rays rotation.
Ramos, the long-man in the Rays bullpen, will start Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Rays manager Joe Maddon said Ramos will compete with Jake Odorizzi and Erik Bedard for the spot in the rotation vacated when Jeremy Hellickson underwent elbow surgery in late January.
“If you look at Cesar, he’s a guy who has a bucketful of average to above-average pitches. We feel like he’s a guy who can get out right-handers and left-handers. He started in the past,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said before today’s game against the Red Sox. “When we got him, one thing he communicated to us that it was hard for him to switch back and forth a lot and we assured him that we wouldn’t do that.”
A starter in the minor leagues, Ramos made two starts with San Diego during his rookie year in 2009. He has been used out of the bullpen with the Rays. His lone start for Tampa Bay came in Philadelphia during the 2012 when a rainout forced a bullpen day for the Rays against the Phillies.
Maddon said he would like the fifth starter’s spot to be settled around the middle of the month.
“I don’t know how things are going to play out,” Friedman said. “We’re going to stretch him out and get a feel for where he slots among the fifth pitcher candidates to the extent that it works out well, that’s obviously a great outcome, and to the extent it doesn’t, there’s not really much downside, and he will be stretched out, which can only help when we get to the beginning of the season.”