Horacio Ramirez Interview

Braves left-handed pitcher Horacio Ramirez has been on the disabled list with left shoulder tendonitis since late May. Before his second rehab start Ramirez talks with BravesCenter's Bill Shanks about his recovery and his pending return to the Atlanta pitching staff.

Editor's Note: Horacio pitched well in his second rehab start with Greenville. His line: 4 hits in 5 innings, 1 run, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout.

SHANKS: When did you start to feel the pain in your arm that put you on the disabled list?
RAMIREZ: It was tendonitis – a real bad case of tendonitis. I was feeling a little bit three starts prior to when I went on the DL. The reason I didn't say anything was because it would loosen up. By the fifth day, I'd be able to pitch so I pitched. But the day after the game in Montreal I could barely pick up my arm. So I went in and got some treatment. I thought I was going to be able to pitch in five days in Phily, but we took the safe route and they put me on the fifteen day DL and I've been on it for about ten or eleven weeks now.

SHANKS: What does tendonitis feel like?
RAMIREZ: It hurts. It hurts. It was rotator cuff tendonitis. It's like somebody stabbing you in the shoulder. Any little movement hurts. You can't do much. I got a cortisone shot and that took a lot of the pain away, but not all of it. So we're still trying to get it strong and get back out there.

SHANKS: Considering how you started off the season, it must make this even more frustrating?
RAMIREZ: It was, it was a little frustrating. This is where I want to be. We weren't playing well at the time, but we were on the up and up. Everybody was starting to get healthy. When I went down, it hurt because I had worked so hard to get to this point and I was throwing the ball so well. I thought I was learning and I was progressing. I was a better pitcher than I was last year.

SHANKS: You could tell you had gotten better?
RAMIREZ: I grew a lot (since last season). To get hurt, it was frustrating.

SHANKS: So the pain just wouldn't go away?
RAMIREZ: We kept testing it out. It would not go away.

SHANKS: Is that a situation where they just tell you you're going to have to rest?
RAMIREZ: Yea. The tough part about this was there was no timetable. So it's like running a race with no finish line. You're just running in place. You know I came off of Tommy John surgery and they told me, "Alright in about ten months you're going to be pitching in a game." But with this, it was just like running in place. You don't know when you're going to hit the finish line.

SHANKS: And knowing you like I do, it's probably been even tougher for you to sit while we've been winning.
RAMIREZ: Definitely. It hurts. It hurts to watch. But at the same time it's been fun seeing guys like Nick Green, Chuckie T, and Adam LaRoche all chip in. Then you've got Marcus Giles back and chipping in to put us in first place at the top of the division. On that end, it's been fun to watch.

SHANKS: OK so your first rehab start in Greenville went well so now what?
RAMIREZ: I'm driving up to Chattanooga Sunday and I'm going to throw 3-4 innings there or 50-55 pitches, whatever comes first. And if that goes well, I'll be in Greenville Friday and I'll go 5-6 innings or 60-70 pitches. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that if all goes well, we'll see what happens after that.

SHANKS: So you had no pain the other night in Greenville.
RAMIREZ: No pain. It was good. It felt good.

SHANKS: I know you've thought about this. When you get back, what's going to happen? We've got five starters right now. Will you go back in the rotation or go to the bullpen?
RAMIREZ: It's going to work out. If I get healthy it's going to work out one way or another whether I start or come out of the pen. I don't care. I want to pitch. That's all I want to do is pitch. I have so much fun when I'm out there. It's killing me not to pitch.

SHANKS: Do you think that they may believe putting you in the bullpen will take some of the stress off your shoulder for the rest of the season? Do you think you'll be strong enough to come back as a starter?
RAMIREZ: If everything goes well, if I'm able to throw 5-6 innings in Greenville, I think I'll be able to throw 5-6 innings anywhere. But that's not my decision and I'm not worrying about it at all. My priority is to get healthy.

SHANKS: You played with Charles Thomas in the minor leagues. This is quite a story, isn't it?
RAMIREZ: Definitely. I didn't know his whole story until this year when he told me that he was on the brink of getting released. To hear that, it's amazing. It's great. That's why it's an unpredictable game, unpredictable life. For him to be up here, he deserves it. He should be the happiest guy out here and he is. Everyday he comes in with a smile. I played with him in Greenville a couple of years ago and he's the same ole Chuckie T. He hasn't changed a bit. He's exactly what we saw in Greenville: a guy who goes out there and gives 110% every single time.

SHANKS: You and I have talked about what you being up here means for our young pitchers in the minor leagues. But when those minor leaguers see yourself and now Adam LaRoche, Nick Green, and Chuckie it must give them even more inspiration to get here.
RAMIREZ: Yea there are underdog stories everywhere. Look at Marcus Giles, a 53rd round pick. He's up in the big leagues hitting .300. Rochy is doing some damage. Chuckie T. You never know. You've got to stick with it. I've had two surgeries and I'm going to stick with it until they take this jersey off my back. I'm not going anywhere until God says, "It's time for you to find another job." Until then, I'm staying here.

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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