OAKLAND -- With four rookies in his seven-man bullpen, Mariners skipper Eric Wedge is still working out who exactly will fill which relief roles. But obviously some new guys are going to be called on quickly to establish themselves. For instance, 21-year-old Erasmo Ramirez was warming up in the eighth inning of Friday's game when Tom Wilhelmsen got in some hot water by giving up singles to three of the first four batters he faced. Wilhelmsen bore down and got out of that jam by striking out Yoenis Cespedes and Kurt Suzuki, but clearly Wedge won't be afraid to go to the strike-throwing youngster from Nicaragua in tough situations.
The other rookies are Rule 5 Draft pick Lucas Luetge, Japanese veteran Hisashi Iwakuma and right-hander Steve Delabar, who pitched six games for Seattle last year. "I'm not sure exactly what his role will be yet," Wedge said of Ramirez. "It's a little tough here early on because a couple guys haven't been in a big league game and we're still establishing roles with most of our guys down there, with the exception of Wilhelmsen and [Brandon] League. "Then we've got the off-day Sunday, we're coming off Spring Training II, so we're just trying to navigate this thing and get into our routines." But Wedge liked what he saw from Ramirez "from Day 1" this spring, as the youngster came to camp along with top prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker and became the one who survived the cut. Wedge doesn't rule out an eventual return to the rotation for Ramirez, who says he came into pro baseball as a reliever in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2008 but quickly was converted to a starter. "I think he's a guy that can go either way," Wedge said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him out of the bullpen first. In regard to where he ends up, he'll be able to dictate that to us just by what we see. My thought process with him is this is a good way to break him in, in the bullpen. Then we'll see where it goes from there."