Ramos progressing, on track for Opening Day

Marlins' closer threw 25 pitches in sim game on Wednesday

March 9th, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. -- A.J. Ramos is progressing towards pitching in a Grapefruit League game after the Marlins' closer threw roughly 25 pitches in a simulated game on a back field on Wednesday morning at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

The club is weighing whether he needs another controlled-setting session before facing another team. Right now, Ramos is about a week behind the rest of the pitchers in camp, but he's on track for Opening Day.

"I'll definitely be there," Ramos said. "I'll be ready for the season, no question about it."

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Early in Spring Training, Ramos dealt with a sore right calf, which set him back briefly. Arm-wise, he's fine. But to avoid moving suddenly off the mound, he has been eased into shape.

In his simulated game, the ball was coming out of his hand nicely, but predictably his command was a bit off.

"My arm is feeling good," Ramos said. "Obviously, location isn't where I want it to be."

The sharpness of his pitches will come with time.

"We're not really worried about A.J. or the timing of [his return]," manager Don Mattingly said. "Just continue to progress him. This was basically his second time against live hitting. The same thing that everybody else got, two live BPs before they got into a game."

The 29-year-old right-hander has been one of the steadiest Miami relievers in recent years. Ramos assumed the closer role last May, and he converted 32 of 38 save chances.

Now that Carter Capps is lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, getting Ramos ready is crucial.

"The biggest thing is laying the foundation now to make sure he's ready to compete," Mattingly said. "Because when he gets out here, the adrenaline goes."

With Capps out, the Marlins will look for a number of internal candidates to step up. Bryan Morris, Kyle Barraclough, Brian Ellington and Dustin McGowan are right-handed setup relief options.

"Carter was a big piece of the bullpen," Ramos said. "Obviously, he has tremendous stuff -- electric. But we're going to step up and we're going to cover for him. We've got guys who have been doing this for a while.

"We've got a lot of guys who can come in here and do the job. It just makes it a little tougher on us to piece it together, but I think we'll be fine."