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Speier, Ramirez vying for roster spots

Speier, Ramirez vying for roster spots

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed relief pitchers Ryan Speier and Ramon Ramirez have had high moments in the Majors during the last two seasons, but need big springs to make the Opening Day roster. They're doing their part with matching 1.50 Cactus League ERAs, Speier through six games and Ramirez through four.

As the Rockies won 14 of their final 15 regular-season games to make the playoffs, Speier's three wins were the most of any pitcher. His first Major League save came in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. But he spent most of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, with 33 saves in 50 appearances.

"I haven't really earned anything other than an opportunity. I'm grateful for that," Speier said.

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In 2006, Ramirez, 25, went 4-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 61 appearances to earn team Rookie of the Year honors. But last year, he had more games at Colorado Springs (25) than with the Rockies (22), and dealt with a strain near his elbow.

"I feel much better, like a couple years ago -- maybe the best in my life," Ramirez said.

Ramirez has six strikeouts and two walks, and a .190 batting average against. Speier has three strikeouts and a .280 batting average against, with one walk. Ramirez's slider, his out pitch, has been sharp. Speier has shown improvement against left-handed hitters, who have given him trouble at the Major League level because they get a good look at his sidearm motion.

It isn't clear if there are spots for both pitchers. It's possible, however, since the Commissioner's Office hasn't decided whether to suspend players accused of performance-enhancing drug use in the Mitchell Report -- a situation that affects righty Matt Herges.

"Those two guys in particular have had very good springs," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. "Ryan was very good late last year and has carried it over to the spring. With Ramon, it has never been a question of ability but the ability to harness, and he's made some nice strides."

Righty Jose Capellan, obtained in a trade from the Tigers, has been out since early camp with a sprained right ankle. He is scheduled for a Minor League game Friday. Whether he can catch up to the other contestants is iffy.

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

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