Notes: Ramirez 'super, super excited'

July 25th, 2020

A club-record four Mariners made their Major League debuts in Friday’s season opener against the Astros -- the most by any MLB team since 1957 -- and none was more excited than Rule 5 reliever .

The 25-year-old was pitching Double-A ball in the Astros’ system a year ago, but found himself facing the three-time defending American League West champions in his first Major League opportunity when called in from the bullpen in the eighth inning of the 8-2 loss at Minute Maid Park.

“He was going so fast in his warmup pitches, I thought he might hyperventilate,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Saturday morning in an online interview from Houston.

Ramirez hails from the Dominican Republic and doesn’t speak much English, so bilingual Mariners third-base coach Manny Acta was yelling from the dugout trying to calm him down while Servais checked with pitching coach Pete Woodworth on his young protégé.

“I said to Woody, “I don’t know,’” Servais said. “Manny is yelling at him in Spanish. Fortunately with nobody there, he can actually hear them on the mound to calm down and take a deep breath. He was super, super excited against his old team. He knows a lot of guys over there and I was really happy he was able to get through the inning and can build upon it.”

Ramirez walked two of the first three batters he faced, but then got José Altuve to fly out to center and struck out Alex Bregman on a nasty slider. Combined with his 96-97 mph heater, Ramirez has some definite big league weapons, but commanding those pitches -- and his nerves -- figures to be his year-long challenge.

“It’s going to be a learning process for him,” Servais said. “I think everybody has seen he’s got a great arm and is a great kid. He’s certainly willing to try different things that we’ve brought to him. We’ll ease him into games like that, get him an inning here and a couple innings there and allow him to grow.”

When Ramirez struck out Bregman, he gestured to the sky with both arms as he walked off the mound, a move he makes after every outing, good or bad.

“That is me simply thanking God for the opportunity. He raises me up and gives me the opportunity every day and when I’m done, I just want to make sure he knows I’m appreciative of it,” Ramirez explained back in Spring Training in Arizona through interpreter Ian Kraft.

The other three Mariners making their MLB debuts were first baseman , left fielder and lefty reliever . The previous club record for most MLB debuts on Opening Day was two in 1989 when Ken Griffey Jr. and Omar Vizquel began their careers.

The last Major League club with four debuts on Opening Day was the Cubs in 1957 with Dick Drott, Cal Neeman, Bob Will and Casey Wise.

‘Peaceful protest is what this is about’

Servais reiterated how proud he was of his team for the way it handled the Opening Day ceremonies, with six of the club’s African American players raising their right fists during the national anthem after both the Astros and Mariners took a knee during the pregame unity ceremony and then stood for the anthem.

For the Mariners, who have nine Black players on their 30-man roster -- the most in the Majors -- the push for racial equality will be more than a one-day discussion.

“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” Servais said. “Their openness to talk about things leading into it, what was important to them. It was really led by Dee Gordon and I had multiple discussions with Taijuan Walker and our guys. I just wanted them to know that organizationally and certainly personally myself, I wanted to do everything I can to support them.

“We’ve got their back. We do need change. I thought what our guys did last night was very respectful. Peaceful protest is what this is about. It’s a good thing that they felt comfortable in doing what they did. I’m really proud of how they’ve handled the whole thing.”

Worth noting

• With Tom Murphy on the 10-day injured list with a broken bone in his left foot, Austin Nola got the start at catcher in Seattle’s first two games. Servais said 29-year-old rookie Joe Hudson would likely get his first action behind the plate in Sunday’s 11:10 a.m. PT game with Yusei Kikuchi on the mound.

• Servais was pleased with how right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. threw in his first outing Friday. The former Cubs reliever gave up a hit and a run in the seventh, but only because left fielder Marmolejos lost a ball in the roof that dropped in for a double by Carlos Correa.

“C.J.’s stuff has really started to come back,” Servais said. “The last couple outings you’ve seen the velocity come and he’s got good late movement to his fastball. We’re going to need him. He’s one of the guys with some experience in our bullpen. It’s nice to see the ball coming out his hand good again.”