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Mariners again calling on Ramirez for spot start

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SEATTLE -- Looking to give the starting rotation extra rest for the final month of the season and a possible trip to the playoffs, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon announced Tuesday that right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will make a spot start Wednesday against the Rangers.

"Last month I managed for September," McClendon said. "This month I'm trying to manage for October, and I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind."

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The Mariners, who entered Tuesday with a half-game lead over the Tigers for the second American League Wild Card, plan to recall Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday morning. That will require a corresponding roster move to clear space on the 25-man roster.

Ramirez, 24, is familiar with Tacoma and Seattle, and he has the miles to show for it. In 2014, he is 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts for the Mariners and 5-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 starts for the Rainiers. This will be his sixth stint with Seattle.

Ramirez began the year in the Mariners' rotation but, after a slow start, was optioned to the Minor Leagues in late April. Since, he's bounced between the Majors and Minors as an extra starter that McClendon can call on when sensing his rotation needs a break.

"He's probably our most experienced guy down there," McClendon said. "He's throwing the best down there. I think this is an opportunity he certainly earned."

Ramirez hasn't earned a victory in the Major Leagues since his April 1 season debut, when he allowed two runs over seven innings in Seattle's 8-3 victory over the Angels.

But that isn't indicative of how he's pitched of late. In his last six big league starts, the Nicaragua native is 0-1 with a 1.15 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.

"I think he's done a nice job. We've called him up a couple times and he's pitched well for us," McClendon said. "He's given us opportunities to win ballgames."

Right-hander Felix Hernandez was originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday. Instead, he'll throw Friday when the Mariners welcome the Washington Nationals to Safeco Field for the opener of a three-game series.

The announcement to add Ramirez to the rotation -- at least temporarily -- came after McClendon saw his starters labor during the club's recent nine-game East Coast road trip. The Mariners have an off-day Thursday, so every starter will pitch on a seventh day instead of the typical five the next time through the cycle.

Making that decision didn't come easy.

"I slept on it for a couple of days," McClendon said. "I know that there is absolutely no doubt that I'm doing the right thing for the future of these pitchers and the future of this organization."

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

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