Ramirez taking rough spring outing in stride

Right-hander overcame slow start last season to be effective for Rays

Ramirez taking rough spring outing in stride

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Erasmo Ramirez did not bring his 'A' game on Tuesday.

Tigers hitters unloaded on the right-hander for seven hits and five earned runs in two-plus innings in the Rays' 6-5 loss in Grapefruit League action at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Not to worry if you're the Rays. They've seen Ramirez at his worst. That nightmare came at the beginning of last season shortly after they acquired him in a trade with the Mariners. Ramirez posted a 25.31 ERA in his first two appearances. The elevated ERA translated to 15 earned runs in five innings.

Ramirez on tough start

Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked if he saw anything of redeeming value in regard to Ramirez at that point.

"To be totally honest, no," Cash said. "Those first two [appearances], I remember one lengthy outing against the Marlins, he was kind of picking around the zone. Not really throwing anything with conviction. And in the next start against the Blue Jays, he took more of a here-it-is-hit-it approach and they hit it."

Happily for Ramirez and the Rays, he turned things around. From April 19 through the end of the 2015 season, Ramirez reigned as one of the best pitchers in the American League, finishing 11-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 34 games (27 starts).

"He made an adjustment, probably found a common ground in both of those [above-mentioned] approaches," Cash said. "And really took some ownership in finding what his strength is as a pitcher.

"We as an organization can deliver a lot of messages and try to help guys along. Ultimately it comes down to their buy-in. Erasmo really bought into that and flourished the remainder of the year."

Cash gave credit where it was due for what Ramirez achieved.

"A lot of credit goes to our front office for finding him and realizing he had some really good qualities that we thought with a few adjustments could be a really good pitcher for us," Cash said. "And then you credit [pitching coach] Jim Hickey and [bullpen coach] Stan Boroski for handling him after that first month of the year, because that was a difficult month. And to Erasmo's credit, he made the adjustments. He bought in. And I think he'd be the first to tell you he's a different pitcher now."

Ramirez allowed that he's had better outings than Tuesday's, but he smiled when noting that the damage occurred in a Spring Training game.

"I have a good idea about what I did last year," Ramirez said. "This is Spring Training and I have to come back to myself and think about what I did during the whole season to be throwing strikes right down at the bottom and away from the homers. That's what I want, just keep the ball in the dirt. If something happens, it has to happen with ground balls."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.