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Ramos joins Team Mexico for Classic

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays left-hander Cesar Ramos has been added to Team Mexico and will pitch in the World Baseball Classic.

"I found out just after the rosters got announced on TV," said Ramos, who has kept the news to himself. "I got a call from [Mexico captain] Adrian [Gonzalez] and spoke to Adrian about it. He [asked] if I was interested. I told him it would be an honor to represent Mexico, not only for me, but for my family. Both parents being from there, it's a great honor to be asked to play for them and to do it for my parents also."

Ramos' parents, Ramon and Maria, emigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico, 33 years ago to seek better opportunities for their future family. Both work in the garment district of Los Angeles; Ramon is nearing retirement and Cesar's mother works quality control for Nygard. They are now American citizens but still speak Spanish; Cesar learned English at his bilingual preschool.

Ramos' parents, like many of their peers, were taken out of school around the fourth grade to support their large families. Maria was the oldest of 10 and helped raise her siblings. Ramon, who was 10 when his father passed away, was the second of eight children. He originally came to the United States as a migrant worker, often picking crops in the fields.

Shortly after immigrating, Ramon and Maria had two kids (Elena and Cesar) and bought a two-bedroom house they still live in today.

"[My parents] couldn't believe it," Ramos said. "They were all excited back home. My aunts, uncles, cousins' cousins are going to be able to watch me play. I've got a lot of family that have never seen me play before, so it'd be kind of cool for them to see who their cousin who plays here is."

Ramos, who will pitch out of Team Mexico's bullpen, said he will leave for Phoenix on March 3 to report to the team.

Ramos went 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 17 appearances last season. He is the fourth Rays player to be participating in the Classic, joining catcher Jose Molina (Puerto Rico), outfielder/infielder Ben Zobrist (United States) and closer Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic).

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