Ramirez has a ball in Major League debut

Ramirez has a ball in Major League debut

ARLINGTON -- As several reporters gathered around Erasmo Ramirez before Tuesday's game in Texas, the Mariners rookie reliever said he needed a minute to finish something up.

Then he proceeded to take a Sharpie and carefully write the date of Monday's game against the Rangers, along with "Major League debut" and then listed his three strikeout victims as well as the home run by Texas standout Josh Hamilton on every available inch of the ball given to him after his first appearance.

"I don't know if it's really my ball," the 21-year-old said with his ever-present smile. "I think they just found one and gave it to me. But the memories are important. I wrote what I did ... and what they did to me."

Ramirez, 21, said he'll find a case and special place in his home for the memento after his three-inning, one-run debut.

"I spent a whole series in Oakland waiting for that moment," Ramirez said. "When the manager was going to the mound, I thought, 'All right,' because that meant I was going in. It was loud, but in that moment I didn't listen too much. I was quiet because it was just me, going to the mound to do what I had to do.

"After the first pitch, I started to get my confidence because I realized, this is the same game, just different hitters. They still have to swing the bat to get hits. Everything was just coming true. I tried to be not too perfect. I was happy because I was throwing strikes and keeping the ball down."

The youngster gave up just two hits from the fourth through sixth innings, slowing the Rangers' momentum on a night they hit four home runs and crossed the plate 11 times.

Ramirez will get a day or two off to recover from his three-inning stint, which is why manager Eric Wedge took him out when he did. The skipper knows he'll need the right-hander in his bullpen rotation as things go forward.

"I was really pleased with the way he threw the ball," Wedge said. "And it was his first time, so you have to take that into consideration. If you add that to it, it was even more impressive."

Wedge likes looking in players' eyes at key moments but said Ramirez presented a new challenge when he arrived at the mound.

"I couldn't get off his smile," Wedge said with a laugh. "Normally I do check the eyes, but I couldn't get off the smile when I was giving him the ball."