Ramos adding a new dimension to his game

Shelving the curveball prior to the 2007 season was a different experience for San Diego Padres prospect Cesar Ramos. But, it allowed him to focus on improving the consistency of his slider – and he is adding a new dimension this year.

One of the people have said concerning you is that you have the stuff but lack some of the finer command. Do you feel that is a fair assessment?

Cesar Ramos: I guess if the numbers show I have a lack of command that is it. But, if you walk the guys and get them out – you get them out. It depends on how many runs are scoring from that. That is what pitching is about. You have to pitch out of certain situations and that was what I did last year to have the numbers I had.

Are numbers a true indication of how good you can be and are?

Cesar Ramos: No. I think it is hard to judge just by what you see on paper. That is why we respect certain guys because we see them go to work every day and how they have gotten better every game. We see what happens out there. Numbers only tell so much. It is your own opinion, I guess.

You spent time in big league camp this spring. What was the experience like and what did it teach you?

Cesar Ramos: Obviously to keep working hard. You are getting close. Like they say – life is a lot better on the other side.

It motivates you to get back on the other side and to stay there instead of coming down. It would be nice to be there for Opening Day and go from there.

Did you feel like someone took you under their wing and showed you the ropes?

Cesar Ramos: They were all pretty open. Everybody was so approachable. You could strike up a conversation with anyone in BP. We would talk about pitching and ask certain questions you have and they are happy to answer them and even give you more on top of what asked for. It was positive.

What kind of questions do you have for guys who have been there for so long?

Cesar Ramos: What was the big difference for them that made them become an everyday big leaguer? Little stuff like that that will keep you up there a lot longer. Stuff you need to learn or know now instead of figuring it out three or four years into your big league career. You want to have an idea of what is going on.

When you look ahead to the 2008 season, what will make for a successful season for Cesar Ramos?

Cesar Ramos: For me, throwing strikes and keeping the ball down. Good things will happen if you do that. That is the hardest part, being consistent and keep the ball down.

If I can give them a good six or seven innings and keep my ERA under 4.00 in the PCL, I guess you can call it a good year.

Is there something specific you are working on to improve?

Cesar Ramos: I am trying to backdoor my slider now. I am working on having that slider on the inner half and try and take it a step further by surprising them and having it go on the outer half. Hopefully they quit on it and it comes back on the outside. It might give me a couple of more punchouts. I am not a strikeout guy and don't worry about strikeouts because I get a lot of early contact and a lot of groundballs, which is the game I like to pitch to, but it is always nice to get a couple of strikeouts, especially when you need it to get out of jams.

You shelved the curveball as well.

Cesar Ramos: They took it away last year. The 2007 season was the first year I pitched with three pitches. That was a little bit different to get used to because I was used to flipping a curveball the third time through a lineup to surprise them. You can't do that anymore – but getting comfortable with those three pitches and executing them the best that I can.

Did you feel like it made those other three pitches a little crisper too?

Cesar Ramos: Yes, because there is more work and more time being spent on my secondary pitches instead of trying to get a feel for my curveball and my slider. Now, it is just working on the changeup and the slider. So, it is a little easier to manage three pitches than four OK pitches. You can have two really good pitches and one decent one.

Which one is the decent one?

Cesar Ramos: I guess whatever is working that day. If the changeup is not working that day, you know the slider is and vice versa.

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