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Yefry Ramírez to start Grapefruit League opener Saturday against Twins

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Yefry Ramírez, the 25-year-old right-hander who is looking to solidify a rotation spot with the Orioles after struggling on the major league roster last summer, will start the Grapefruit League opener against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium, manager Brandon Hyde said Wednesday.

"I watched his live [BP] the other day, he looked great," Hyde said. "I'm impressed. I'm excited to watch him. I know he's excited to toe it up for us on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to watching him compete."

"I feel great, very excited, when I was told about the news," Ramírez said through team interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "It makes me feel really good, having this opportunity. I feel there's a priority in order, and I'm looking forward to trying to take advantage of that."

Ramírez made his major league debut on June 13. He joined the organization in a 2017 deadline trade and immediately became one of their best pieces of high-minors pitching depth. He had a 3.88 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Norfolk, but his time in the majors wasn't as clean.

Ramírez especially struggled down the stretch en route to a 5.92 ERA in the big leagues, but then-manager Buck Showalter said pitching coach Roger McDowell had brought along his slider as a credible third pitch to go along with his fastball and plus changeup.

The signing of right-hander Nate Karns made the Orioles' rotation a little more complete entering spring training, though the likes of Ramírez, David Hess, Josh Rogers, Hunter Harvey, Jimmy Yacabonis, and John Means are all vying for major league rotation looks.

Hyde said Ramírez's own goals for the season were to be more aggressive and not get himself into jams of his own volition. Ramírez said he wants to get more consistent with his mechanics and not fall off toward first base as much.

"I think talking with him and kind of looking at this stuff, I think he wants to improve his command," Hyde said. "I think he wants to be a little more aggressive in the zone, not shy away from contact and attack hitters. That's what I'm looking for."

Davis schedule TBD

Hyde had a meeting on the books to determine how often first baseman Chris Davis would play in the early part of the Grapefruit League schedule, with the new manager's philosophy on veteran players' schedules coming out when asked about what his own plans were.

"I like to really sit down with the veteran guys, I think everybody's different," Hyde said. "I've seen it in a lot of different ways — I know a lot of veteran guys who need a ton of at-bats, I know some guys that like to ease into and get a bunch of at-bats late. I'm getting to kind of get to know these guys a little bit and we''ll talk about it and we'll kind of play it by ear as camp goes along.

“Sometimes, when guys are swinging the bat well, they don't want to take too many at-bats because they want to carry it into the season. I get that. Sometimes, guys want to load up on a bunch late as camp ends."

Kremer progressing; Sucre nearing arrival

On both right-hander Dean Kremer, who hasn't participated in workouts this spring due to an oblique strain, and catcher Jesus Sucre, who hasn't been able to leave Venezuela due to an issue with his visa, Hyde said that each was progressing toward availability this week.

Hyde said Kremer is still rehabbing, but all signs are "real positive."

"That's just something you don't want to rush back," Hyde said. "I think that the report I got this morning was all signs are looking up."

Hyde said he didn't have any details on Sucre, "but it sounds like we're moving in the right direction.”

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