Blue Jays’ Neil Ramirez discusses life, baseball career with Jays Journal

Apr 10, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Neil Ramirez against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Neil Ramirez is the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays after being claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

A tough start to the season turned into a fresh start for newly acquired Toronto Blue Jay, Neil Ramirez. The 27-year old, who will turn 28 on May 25, left the Giants with an 8.71 ERA in nine games, while he pitched 10.1 innings. He struck out 18 batters- which caught the eye of Blue Jays management.

Career wise he owns a 3.72 ERA and a 1.337 WHIP in 96 relief appearances. The Virginia native spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Minnesota Twins since entering the major leagues in 2014.

He gave an exclusive interview to Jays Journal. Ramirez discussed his excitement coming to Toronto, his career, and his life.

Matt: Take me through the moment you went on waivers to be claimed by the Blue Jays?

Neil: I had a couple of rough outings in San Francisco, thought I wasn’t throwing the ball very well as the team was struggling too. I understood the move, it was unfortunate, but I enjoyed my time there. During spring training I got to know some of the guys and built some relationships.

Once that happened, I stayed positive, went to Nashville to keep the arm loose. When the Blue Jays claimed me, I was extremely excited about it.  I didn’t know much about the Blue Jays but I watched them on TV during the playoffs. The talent level here is remarkable and I want to do my best to help them win.

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Matt: Last season, you were a journeyman who made 18 appearances with the Cubs, Brewers, and Twins. What was that like?

Neil: It was a crazy year. I was not prepared for what happened since it was the first time it happened to me. The Cubbies let me go almost a year ago and that was tough because they were winning, which is something you want to be a part of. I dealt with it and tried to move on but there were a lot of ups and downs. When I finished the season in Triple-AAA, that was when I actually felt like I got my rhythm back.

Matt:  What role did the Blue Jays give you to hold down while with the big club?

Neil: They didn’t give me a role yet, but they basically told me to be ready. Probably throw multiple innings or a late inning role. I’ll be ready at all times for whatever situation comes up. It’s been that way for the past few years.

Matt:  How does it feel to know that you‘re on a ball club who still has a shot at the postseason?

Neil: To be on a winning team who has a chance of the playoffs is an awesome feeling. Their huge players (Donalson, Tulo, Sanchez, Happ) are hurt and hopefully, they can get back soon and we can get the ball rolling.

Matt:  You’re known to strike out batters with your fastball-slider combo, what are other things you can contribute to the bullpen?

Neil: Strikeouts come when you make good pitches. I have to do my best at keeping the ball down, continue working the counts, and going out on the mound to do the best I can.

Matt:  You had an excellent rookie season (1.44 ERA, 53 strikeouts) but had injuries in your shoulder a few years ago, how’s it doing now?

Neil: I had to deal with trying to throw so well and I’m not sure why I did, but it throws you off. There have been lots of ups and downs these past two seasons, but I actually had a good offseason. I got enough rest which gave me an extended period of time to get ready. I’m focusing more on pitches rather than not feeling good about myself. I think now it will all come together.

Matt:  How do you prepare for games?

Neil: I have the usual routine. Get the body loose and ready, get there early enough to start my throwing routine, hang out with the guys in the bullpen. When I’m warming up in the bullpen, I have a visualization of being out there and feeling optimistic every time I go out there.

Matt: Do you know any of the current players or have any past dealings with any of them?

Neil: I’ve known Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan since we played for the Cubbies in 2014. Justin Smoak and I are actually in the same agency, and we came up together in the Texas Rangers organization.

Matt:  Have you ever been to Canada or Toronto?

Neil: When I was with the Cubs in 2014.  I didn’t pitch really good… I had a two-out full count on Jose Bautista until he ripped a double down the left field line. Hopefully, I can turn it around here.

Matt:  What’s your warm up song?

Neil: Nothing yet. I’m hoping to come up with something good, still looking through my songs on my phone.

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That’s a little bit about Neil Ramirez. You can follow Ramirez on Twitter @NAndrewRam.