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Ramos 'getting comfortable' as Rays' long-relief man

BALTIMORE -- Cesar Ramos was impressive while appearing in four of the Rays' 10 games during the last homestand after pitching in only three of the previous 17 games.

"[Ramos has] been good. He's been really good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "... Very aggressive in the zone, really a good sinking movement on the fastball. Excellent slow curveball. He's been pitching really well. [It looks like] he feels very comfortable."

Ramos also said that he's "getting comfortable."

"That's helped me relax a little more when I set," Ramos said. "I think I was being a little too tense and that was causing me to be inconsistent. And now when I set, I just relax my shoulders a little bit more and good things have been happening."

There isn't a lot of glory in being a team's long man out of the bullpen, but Ramos has been heroic lately. He threw 2 1/3 innings of perfect relief on May 11 in a win over the Padres and on Wednesday against the Red Sox he pitched three scoreless innings, a high watermark for any Rays reliever this season. The latter appearance helped save the bullpen, which might go unnoticed by some fans, but not the rest of the bullpen.

"Most of the people don't see that," Joel Peralta said. "Most of the people see the back of the bullpen. [Jake] McGee, [Fernando] Rodney and Peralta. People don't understand that everybody is important in the bullpen. ... What they do is valuable to the team and to us in the bullpen."

Because Ramos has been so impressive, Maddon has been asked on occasion if Ramos could be used in a more significant role when he sees work in moments where the game is on the line.

"Everybody has different roles," Maddon said. "He has fulfilled his role. ... To put him in in the latter part of the game, that may occur when it's needed, but right now [long relief is] the role he's needed in, and he's done a great job with it so far."

Ramos is fine with the idea of continuing in his current role.

"I just like any assignment," Ramos said. "Any time you go in the game, you want to put up a zero. And when I go into the game, that's just my mindset even if it's just one hitter, or an inning, two innings, three innings, five innings. Whatever. I just want to put up a zero every time I'm out there and get everybody out.

"You take what you get. We have a lot of great arms and they have their roles, and they just keep going. It's fun watching them go at it in those high-level situations. Time will come when it does. But for now, my time's been with what's going on and I'm happy with it."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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