SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez struggled along with the rest of the club last year, but he’s hoping that he puts himself in good position this spring to win a place on the major league roster.
The first real step in that effort came Saturday afternoon, when he became the first Oriole to throw a pitch in earnest in his team’s Grapefruit League opener against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.
Ramirez pitched two innings and allowed a run on two hits. He also walked two in a 44-pitch debut that could have been crisper, but got through it without significant problems.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the visa situation that has kept catcher Jesús Sucre in Venezuela as spring training rolls on without him is "going in the right direction," but all he could say about a pending arrival was that it was "hopefully in the next couple of weeks."
“I feel very comfortable,’’ he said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. “I think there are more opportunities for me to make the team this year than last year, so I’m trying to go out there and hopefully win a spot in the rotation.”
After posting a 1-8 record and 5.92 ERA in 17 games (12 starts) at the big league level last season, he went into the winter hoping to improve his slider but ended up taking a more macro approach to his precamp preparations.
“I realized that if I can be more consistent with my pitching mechanics, all my pitches will get better,’’ he said, “so the main focus was my mechanics.”
On Saturday afternoon, he also became the first Orioles pitcher to work with the new 20-second pitch clock counting down behind him above the center-field fence, but said he didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.