Royals add reliever to roster

Royals add reliever to roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez hasn't even put on a Royals uniform yet, but he's on their Opening Day roster.

The Royals obtained Ramirez on Wednesday from the Rockies for a player to be named.

"We're looking at back-end bullpen help. He will be on the club," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said. "The reports are good. I have not seen him, except for video. ... Our scouts feel he can help us right now."

Last season, Ramirez was 2-2 with an 8.81 ERA in 22 games for the Rockies and was hampered by an elbow injury. For Triple-A Colorado Springs, he went 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 25 appearances. In 2006, he was the Rockies' Rookie of the Year after going 4-3 with a 3.46 ERA.

"We like his stuff, we like his power and we like his pitch-ability in late innings," Hillman said. "It's supposed to be very electric."

The addition of Ramirez, and a groin injury to non-roster invitee Hideo Nomo, helps clear up, to some extent, the probable makeup of the Royals' bullpen.

If the Royals opt to keep 11 pitchers, subtract the five starters and you've got six relief spots. Considered locks are these five: Ramirez, Joakim Soria, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Ron Mahay and Jimmy Gobble.

That leaves Leo Nunez, who is out of options, and Joel Peralta and Neal Musser, who each still have options remaining, as a possible sixth reliever. Brandon Duckworth, a non-roster pitcher, also could be in the mix.

Ramirez, 26, had a remarkable rookie run with the Rockies. He broke in on April 14, 2006, and reeled off 15 1/3 straight scoreless innings, setting a franchise record for the start of a career. The streak ended on May 15 when Nomar Garciaparra of the Dodgers singled to score pitcher Brett Tomko, one of Ramirez's new teammates.

Originally signed as an outfielder, Ramirez switched to pitching and spent 2002 in Japan, mostly in the minors. Acquired from the Hiroshima Carp by the Yankees, he was in their system until being traded to the Rockies in 2005.

This spring for the Rockies, Ramirez pitched in nine games and posted a 1.42 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in 12 2/3 innings.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.