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Ramirez utilizing curveball in expanded role

Angels reliever notched win in relief Wednesday
MLB.com @mi_guardado

OAKLAND -- It was overshadowed by Garrett Richards' injury scare, but JC Ramirez's relief performance was one of the bright spots of the Angels' 5-0 win over the A's on Wednesday at Oakland Coliseum.

After Richards exited the game in the fifth inning with biceps cramping, Ramirez later entered in the sixth and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings to protect a five-run lead, sparing the Halos from using much of their bullpen.

Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- It was overshadowed by Garrett Richards' injury scare, but JC Ramirez's relief performance was one of the bright spots of the Angels' 5-0 win over the A's on Wednesday at Oakland Coliseum.

After Richards exited the game in the fifth inning with biceps cramping, Ramirez later entered in the sixth and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings to protect a five-run lead, sparing the Halos from using much of their bullpen.

Full Game Coverage

The Angels tried Ramirez as a starter this spring, but they had no room for him in their rotation. He opened the regular season in the bullpen, where he is expected to work as a multi-inning reliever.

Video: KC@LAA: Ramirez strikes out Merrifield in the 1st

Given the workload restrictions that some of their top starters will be facing this year, the Halos stocked their relief corps with several pitchers who are capable of pitching more than one inning, including Ramirez, Bud Norris, Blake Parker and Yusmeiro Petit.

"I think one of the important features of our bullpen is the multi-inning look," manager Mike Scioscia said. "The other side is these guys need a little more time to recover when they're going two-plus innings. But it certainly gives you an opportunity to maybe use one less pitcher on a given night. The last three nights, if you look at it, we got 17 outs from Ricky [Nolasco] and 15 from [Matt Shoemaker] and 14 from Garrett. That could really decimate a 'pen if it wasn't for what JC did yesterday."

Ramirez added a curveball to his arsenal this spring to help him transition to starting, and Scioscia said he still expects the 28-year-old right-hander to deploy the pitch during relief outings in conjunction with his fastball and slider.

"It's a different depth pitch than his slider," Scioscia said. "I think the change of velocity is important. He's used it and been successful with it. I think when you combine the three, I think it gives him a lot of different things he can do on the mound, as far as changing depth and velocity."

Ramirez was unavailable for Thursday's series finale against the A's after throwing 38 pitches Wednesday. Scioscia said he isn't sure if Ramirez will be able to recover from multi-inning outings on one day of rest.

"We'll see," Scioscia said. "If it takes two days, it takes two days. If a guy is pitching into a third inning and needs two days' rest, it's still a plus. He's still saving two guys from pitching in that game. We'll see when he can bounce back."

Worth noting

• Scioscia said Richards is still scheduled to be evaluated by the Angels' medical staff when they return to Anaheim, following the conclusion of their series with the A's. The Halos will wait to see the results of the examination before deciding whether Richards will make his next start against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Luis Valbuena (strained right hamstring) has started running on an anti-gravity treadmill and has been hitting in the batting cage. The Angels expect him to start running on the field this weekend.

• Catcher Carlos Perez, infielder Cliff Pennington and outfielder Ben Revere all made their season debut Thursday against the A's.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Angels, JC Ramirez