Cesar Ramos wants to be a starting pitcher, as he was coming up through the minors, and he signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers because they gave him the opportunity to start.
But like every player in spring camp, the left-hander wants to be in the major leagues. If that means he has to return to the bullpen, so be it. He can do that, too.
Ramos worked as a starter Monday, albeit in relief of A.J. Griffin, and allowed two runs in two innings in his third Cactus League outing. The Rangers saw plenty of Ramos last season as a member of the Los Angeles Angels’ bullpen, and like what he did then and is doing now.
“It seemed like every time we played Anaheim he was in the game,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s that veteran presence but also that pitchability.”
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The Rangers have only one bullpen spot available but might end up having two if Banister decides that he wants an eight-man bullpen to open the season. One spot will be filled by a multiple-innings reliever who might not be a traditional long man.
Of the 65 appearances Ramos made in 2015, only 13 went longer than an inning but none was longer than 2 1/3 innings. He started seven games in 2014 for Tampa Bay.
“I’m happy with whatever role I get,” Ramos said. “If I am able to get a role on this team, they feel like I can help them win and that’s what I’m here for.
“I’ve got some experience now, and it’s kind of cool to be able to say that. I’ve kind of done it all. Even last year, one of the coaches in Anaheim said I was their Swiss Army Knife. Just whatever needed to be done.”
As the Rangers mull how they will fill out the bullpen, Ramos is on their radar.
“He has that in his tool box,” Banister said. “He’s done that before. It’s nice to have a guy like that out there as an option.”
More roster cuts
Hard-throwing right-hander Connor Sadzeck, who hit 102 mph during the Arizona Fall League, was one of four players optioned to minor league camp, and right-hander Steve Johnson was released.
Joining Sadzeck in minor league camp were righty Jose Leclerc, left-hander Yohander Mendez and outfielder/infielder Pat Kivlehan.
The Rangers decided it was time for them to start getting regular reps rather than spot duty in Cactus League games. That’s particularly important for Sadzeck, who came back last year from Tommy John surgery.
“We liked everything we saw,” Banister said. “What Sadzeck showed us is that he can throw strikes whether it’s at 94-95 or 99. His composure on the mound showed us that he has a new maturity level.”
Sadzeck finished 2015 at Double A Frisco, where he struggled. Kivlehan is headed to Triple A Round Rock, where the Rangers want him to show his versatility by playing the infield corners in addition to the outfield.
“We talked to him about playing multiple positions,” Banister said. “He likes that. He’s got that mindset.”
Getting their work
The start of minor league games will allow the Rangers to move some of their pitchers to the back fields at the Surprise Recreation Campus to get their work.
Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez worked in a Triple A game Monday as he continues his pursuit of the fifth spot in the rotation. Left-hander Cole Hamels and righty Jeremy Guthrie, another rotation hopeful, will pitch in minor league games Tuesday.
Closer Shawn Tolleson will make his spring debut after Hamels exits. Tolleson’s pace has been slowed after having back spasms March 3.
▪ Second baseman Rougned Odor (strained right oblique) did not take batting practice Monday but will do so Tuesday. His availability for the San Antonio games will be determined Thursday after the lone off day of camp.
▪ Yu Darvish (Tommy John surgery) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session and will begin to incorporate more pitches from his vast repertoire.