Ramirez bolsters Rainiers’ rotation

Contributing writerJune 9, 2013 

Two Tacoma Rainiers starting pitchers expected to contribute in the major leagues this season — Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Hultzen — are on the mend.

Expected to campaign for a spot in the Mariners’ opening day rotation, Ramirez suffered through a rough spring training and opened the season on the Rainiers’ disabled list.

He stayed in Arizona, rehabilitating a sore arm. Now Ramirez is back with the Rainiers, making his first Triple-A start of the season on June 2. His second outing was Saturday night.

Ramirez went 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 59 innings for the Mariners last season, splitting his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation.

The Mariners are grooming him to be a starter now. He went 52/3 innings in his first Tacoma start, allowing just two runs to a good Sacramento club.

“He’s a lot better, with a more consistent delivery, than in spring training,” said Tacoma pitching coach Dwight Bernard. “He was a little bit sore then, and was trying to pitch through something.”

Ramirez is still building up his pitch load. He was cleared to throw 95 pitches on Saturday night.

“As for a timetable, who knows, but in my opinion he’s pretty close,” Bernard said.

Meanwhile, the left-handed Hultzen continues to rehabilitate at the Mariners’ extended spring training camp in Peoria, Ariz.

“He threw a simulated game, and he’s about ready to go again,” Bernard said. “He says he feels real good.”

Hultzen made four starts for Tacoma in April, going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA. He was preparing to start on April 25 in Las Vegas when he noticed stiffness in his throwing shoulder. The Mariners’ medical staff diagnosed it as a left rotator cuff strain and tendinitis.

Bernard said that he hopes Hultzen will return to the Rainiers by the end of the month.

BARON’S OUTLOOK BLEAK

This week’s annual Major League Baseball first-year player draft caused the names of former Mariners first-round picks to surface – successful or not. One name that came up a lot was catcher Steve Baron, who was Seattle’s supplemental first-rounder in 2009. Baron was the 33rd player chosen that year, out of a Miami high school.

Baron has fallen off the radar in 2013, and he wasn’t invited to major league spring training camp – a true rarity for a catcher with a high profile, considering the need for receivers during spring training.

Now 22 years old, Baron has spent this season with Advanced-A High Desert in the California League. He’s hitting .224 with four home runs while serving as the team’s primary catcher.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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