Neil Ramirez hasn’t done anything wrong. But he is headed back to Triple-A Iowa.
For the young reliever, this temporary trip to the minors has to do with one thing and one thing only: rest.
The move was not performance-related, and how could it be? Ramirez has pitched great this season, sporting an 0.96 ERA before he was optioned Saturday morning. He could be a relief piece of the future for the rebuilding Cubs, and they don’t want him to be over-taxed in a season where the losses will far outnumber the wins by the time the end of September rolls around. And that’s why Ramirez is going to Iowa: so he won’t have to pitch, so he can just take a break from working that arm.
“We’re just going to give him a blow, that’s all this is,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Saturday. “We’ve been using everybody extensively. We’ve had conversations within the organization since the beginning of spring training about a lot of our arms and how we use them a lot. And we want to be able to have the ability and the opportunity to give them a break during the course of the season. I think we’re (approaching) the month of August right now, which for us is a time when we’ve really ridden these guys quite a bit. And it’s just maybe the appropriate time for us to do this right now. And so we’ve proceeded with Neil, and I’m sure it won’t be the last person we do. We have quite a few arms, obviously, that we’ve been riding quite a bit. This is a very, very short breath for him. We want him to just take a step back, regroup and then be back with us.”
Ramirez has thrown 28 innings in 33 appearances this season. He’s getting a couple days off — he doesn’t even have to report to Iowa for 72 hours — while Blake Parker takes his roster spot in the Cubs ‘pen.
“This is not a performance-based issue,” Renteria said. “This is simply to give him a blow. We’re trying to make sure that we are proactive in limiting and guarding them a little bit. Maybe we’re being conservative, but that’s how we’re going to proceed.”