ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Since he was designated for assignment for the second time this season, Neil Ramirez visited his parents in Huntington Beach, Va., last week. The plan was for him and his wife, Tiffany, to spend some time at the beach Sunday while he waited to learn where he’s be pitching next.
They never made it. Ramirez got a call that morning and learned the Twins had claimed him off waivers, and he was off to Anaheim for his latest adventure.
His head still was spinning from his short stint with the Brewers, a stint that lasted just two outings. But Ramirez was trying to get settled in there after being designated for assignment by the Cubs.
That’s right. Three teams in three months for Ramirez. From a Cubs team with a .705 winning percentage as of Monday to Milwaukee (.476) and now the Twins (.306).
“My wife, unfortunately, she has been stressed out with all of [the logistics],” Ramirez said. “She had built some relationships with the people from Chicago too. We’re both just going with it, dealing with it the best you can. Just hoping to just come here and do my part.”
Ramirez, 27, would love to hang his hat somewhere for a while. Drafted by the Rangers with the 44th overall pick in 2007, Ramirez was a player to be named later in the deal with the Cubs that sent Matt Garza to Texas.
His career couldn’t have started any better, as he posted a 0.64 ERA through his first 16 games with the Cubs in 2014 and became a late-inning setup stalwart. He finished the season with a 1.44 ERA over 50 games. He touched 96 miles per hour on the radar gun and threw a nasty slider.
“I just told myself I was going to go right at guys,” he said. “I had that mindset that whole year.”
His 2015 season was limited to 14.0 innings, mostly due to shoulder problems, but he also had abdominal muscle soreness.
Ramirez had a 4.70 ERA through eight outings with the Cubs when he was designated for assignment May 21 when Chicago wanted to go to 12 pitchers.
The Brewers claimed him and gave him two appearances, but he was designated for assignment May 31 after giving up back-to-back homers to the Phillies’ Jimmy Paredes and Cameron Rupp.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said there first were internal discussions about Ramirez when the Cubs severed ties with him in May. They see a fresh arm that can help a beleaguered bullpen that entered Monday with a 4.58 ERA that was 14th in the American League. Ramirez will be the 23rd pitcher used by the club this season when he gets into a game.
“The one thing that has been holding him back a little bit has been command issues throughout his career,” Molitor said of Ramirez, who has walked an average of 4.2 batters per nine innings in his career and has walked eight batters in 9⅓ innings this season. “His strikeout ratio has been good, major leagues and minor leagues. Velocity is down a little bit on his fastball but his slider is a really effective pitch against righties and lefties.
“I’m just going to try to blend him in.”
Ramirez will appreciate the work. Because of the roster moves, he’s gone 13 and 15 days between appearances and hasn’t been on a mound since June 5. He feels he needs consistent use to return to the force he was with the Cubs.
“I don’t think it is that far off,” Ramirez said. “It’s a matter of trusting your stuff and not thinking about anything other than that. Anytime there is some self-doubt that creeps in that’s not a good place to be. Just getting back to being the bulldog and going out there and competing.”