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Ramirez, LeBlanc both happy to be Yankees

Though completely different pitchers, they do share the same pedigree
06/06/2014 1:00 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Wade LeBlanc made his Yankees debut Wednesday night.(AP)
Among the many roster moves the Yankees made earlier this week were the additions of two new relief pitchers, lefty Wade LeBlanc and righty Jose Ramirez.

The two couldn't be any more different, in everything from repertoire to how they got here - Ramirez is a rookie who was signed as a 17-year-old international free agent in 2007, while LeBlanc is a 29-year-old MLB journeyman who was claimed off waivers from the Angels - but one thing is the same: they're both thrilled to be in pinstripes.

"Just a lot of emotions going through me, but I'm more happy than anything," Ramirez, who doesn't speak English, told the media through the translation of Dellin Betances on Wednesday. "I feel very good. I've been able to command my pitches and I feel ready."

"You're ecstatic," LeBlanc added Thursday. "When I thought about my career path, I never associated it with the New York Yankees, so this is definitely beyond excitement."

They do have one other thing in common as well, in that they were both starters by trade. Ramirez was a rotation candidate until this year, when a series of upper-body injuries led the Yankees to convert him into a reliever full-time.

He excelled in that role at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, pitching to a 0.84 ERA in seven appearances with 13 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes Ramirez's repertoire lends itself well to continued success.

"He's somewhat of a power guy with an outstanding changeup and a slider that has become better," Girardi said, "and he has the ability to strike people out. He can be a swing-and-miss guy at times."

The bonus, for Girardi at least, is that with his pedigree, Ramirez is more than just a middle reliever; as the skipper said, Ramirez is "similar to an Adan Warren or a Dellin Betances" in that he can be used for longer periods of time, like he was when he pitched two innings in his major-league debut on Wednesday.

That's definitely also the case for LeBlanc, who has started in 68 of his 98 major league appearances and made nine starts at Triple-A Salt Lake earlier this year. His lone major-league appearance with the Angels was 6 1/3 innings of long relief, and so he will be the nominal swingman - but as the second lefty in the bullpen behind Matt Thornton, LeBlanc could even get a look or two as a specialist at times.

"LeBlanc is a long reliever, in a sense, but maybe I'll use him short on occasion if they've got some left-handers coming up," Girardi said. "He's a guy that we need to get to know a little bit."

The skipper tried that in giving LeBlanc the ninth inning behind Ramirez in Wednesday's loss, but given the nature of the long relief role so far this year, it is quite possible that the southpaw may be one lengthy appearance away from another roster crunch catching up with him.

And that's where the differences between he and Ramirez kick back in, as the young righty may be here to stay, especially if he pitches well going forward now that his MLB debut is out of the way.

"The nature of the business is that if you play well, you'll usually stay. If he pitches well, then he's going to pitch more. That's the bottom line," Girardi said. "We don't bring up a guy usually and say that it's for a day, unless it's a split doubleheader. He's getting an opportunity to be a part of our bullpen."

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