Rays Notes: Cesar Ramos Joins Mexican WBC Team, Spring Rotation Schedule, Juan Sandoval

By Robbie Knopf

The opportunity to represent join country doing what you love is something that’s nearly impossible to turn down. Even though he is set to compete for a bullpen job with the Rays this spring training, Cesar Ramos could not resist signing on to join Mexico’s World Baseball Classic team when team captain Adrian Gonzalez came calling. Talking to the Rays’ official site, Ramos and his family were ecstatic about the news.

"“I found out just after the rosters got announced on TV,” said Ramos, who has kept the news to himself. “I got a call from [Mexico captain] Adrian [Gonzalez] and spoke to Adrian about it. He [asked] if I was interested. I told him it would be an honor to represent Mexico, not only for me, but for my family. Both parents being from there, it’s a great honor to be asked to play for them and to do it for my parents also.”"

Congratulations to Ramos on receiving the opportunity to represent the home of his parents and grandparents in the World Baseball Classic, and hopefully the high-leverage innings he’ll pitch in the WBC can be a nice warm-up for the bigger role he is set to play in the Rays’ bullpen in 2013.

In just a few days, actually baseball games will finally begin. The Rays begin Grapefruit League play this Saturday with split-squad games versus the Pirates at home in Port Charlotte at 1:05 PM and on the road against the Red Sox in Ft. Myers at 1:35 PM before playing the Twins in Ft. Myers at 1:05 PM on Sunday and hosting the Red Sox in Port Charlotte. Which players will see time in which game has yet to be determined, but one thing we do know right now is the scheduled starters: per Marc Topkin, Roberto Hernandez wil go in the Saturday home opener, Enny Romero will start in the Saturday road game, Chris Archer will throw on Sunday, and Alex Cobb will take the hill on Monday. That’s a pretty strong group of four starters- and at least two of them will not begin the 2013 season in the Rays’ MLB rotation. It’s time to get excited about baseball returning- and just as excited about how good this Rays team has the ability to be.

And to close, a lot of the talk in Rays camp has been around right-hander Juan Sandoval, the pitcher who the Rays signed to a minor league contract this offseason despite the fact that he’s blind in his right eye. And after the great piece Jeff Passon of Yahoo Sports wrote about him yesterday, here we are talking about him again. The piece is a must-read for baseball fans, featuring selections like this.

"“If he pitched the way he did in winter ball in the Dominican and down in Mexico, he’s going to do some good things for this team,” Peralta said. “Not because he’s my friend. Not because it’s taken him so long to get here. Because he is that good. My present is going to be when he makes it to the big leagues.”Sandoval is certain he will. Players don’t get second chances like this only to blow them. His arm is healthy. Sandoval thinks another six or seven years’ worth of pitches are in there. His optimism isn’t only optical."

Best of luck to Sandoval this spring, and hopefully by the end of 2013, his inspiring story will reach its next exciting chapter.