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Young Ramirez making his pitch for rotation

Young Ramirez making his pitch for rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Erasmo Ramirez knows the competition for spots in the Mariners' rotation is heated this spring, but the 22-year-old from Nicaragua is doing his best to make that decision more difficult for manager Eric Wedge and his staff.

Ramirez worked his way in and out of trouble for six innings on Saturday, picking up the victory in a 5-2 decision over the Rockies. Though he allowed five doubles among eight hits, the youngster bore down when needed and limited Colorado to just two runs while going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

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The runs were the first allowed by Ramirez this spring, and his ERA sits at 1.50 after 12 innings of work.

"When I get in trouble, I relaxed and executed. Why didn't you do that when nobody was on base?" Ramirez asked with a grin. "I'm working on that."

Ramirez is one of several youngsters -- along with Blake Beavan and Brandon Maurer -- competing with veterans Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman for the final twol spots in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders.

Though Ramirez opened last season in the bullpen before starting eight games in the second half, Wedge said he's definitely being viewed as a starting candidate. Controlling the damage, as he did Saturday, is part of the package the Mariners want to see.

"He's been pretty good with that," Wedge said. "I'd like to see him come out a little bit better, but again, he's in here competing, throwing the ball well and using all his pitches and doing a pretty good job both against left- and right-handed hitters."

A year ago, Ramirez survived the final cut over highly-rated prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Those three have been sent down again this year, but Ramirez said the competition never eases.

"I'm working hard to make their decision tough, because we have a lot of talent in the Minors," Ramirez said. "Oh my gosh, we've got young guys throwing like 98 easy. So I have to make sure to do my work and show the manager and staff that I want to fight.

"You don't want to seem like you've already got the spot. You think always, even if you have a contract or whatever you've got, you have a lot of competition always. It never ends. All the season, in the season, on vacation, even in Winter Ball, you've got competition. You've got to be ready for everyone."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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