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Erasmo sharp in first spring performance

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, competing for a spot in the Mariners' rotation, got off to a nice start with a quick inning of work in Seattle's 8-3 victory over the Padres on Sunday.

The 22-year-old gave up a single to standout third baseman Chase Headley, but otherwise zipped through a 15-pitch first frame in which he threw 11 strikes while mixing his curve and changeup in with a fastball in the 91-93 mph range.

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"I was working to mix pitches and not just throw fastballs," said the youngster from Nicaragua. "Today was different. I was getting ahead with the fastball, but I had to practice my breaking balls. For me, it was a good inning and good start for Spring Training, and hopefully it'll continue. Just pounding the strike zone, that's my goal."

Ramirez is one of several pitchers competing for Seattle's fourth and fifth starting spots. He went 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 appearances last year as a rookie, including eight starts in which he looked very good until suffering from elbow soreness.

That experience puts him in good stead this spring to compete for a rotation berth.

"His arsenal of pitches is why we feel strong about him as a starter," said manager Eric Wedge. "We know he can pitch out of the bullpen, too, if we need him to. But we look at him as a starter just because of the way he can compete against big league hitters over the course of six, seven, eight innings. It's just about the experience he gained last year, particularly at the end of the year when he was starting, and the way he threw the baseball."

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