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Five minutes with ... J.C. Ramirez

Playing at: Reading (AA) Position: Starting pitcher Bats: Right. Throws: Right. Height: 6-3. Weight: 175 (listed; he's closer to 220).

Playing at: Reading (AA)

Position: Starting pitcher

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Height: 6-3. Weight: 175 (listed; he's closer to 220).

Age: 22. Born: Aug. 16, 1988, in Managua, Nicaragua.

How obtained: Acquired when the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 16, 2009.

This season: Is 5-4 with an ERA that jumped from 2.83 to 3.54 after he gave up six earned runs in four innings on Thursday, his roughest outing of the season . . . Will start tonight against visiting Trenton (ticket info: 610-375-8469) . . . His best outing was a seven-inning shutout of Akron on April 23.

Career at a glance: Promoted from Clearwater to Reading last season and went 3-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 13 starts for the R-Phils . . . Struggles likely due to a hip injury that required labrum surgery in September . . . His stock rose sharply after a 4-0, 1.03 start this season that earned him Phillies minor league pitcher of the month for April.

Where are the Ks? Ramirez was told by Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee to pitch more to contact and to develop his changeup and slider. As a result, he has only 21 strikeouts in 58 innings this year. Opponents, though, are hitting just .226.

Getting personal: J.C. stands for Juan Carlos . . . Married Daisy Lais in November 2009 . . . Started pitching professionally as a 17-year-old in 2006.

His biggest influence: Mom, Ana. "She taught me everything that I know," he said. "She was always supporting me and giving me confidence."

Most famous people in his phone: Jose Contreras and Danys Baez. Speaks to Baez, a 10-year major league veteran, frequently about mechanics, confidence and everything else in life. "He gives me good advice."

First job: Selling candy with an old lady in his Managua neighborhood.

Star gazing: Ramirez is a former catcher and a big fan of the Yankees' Jorge Posada. "I met him in spring training this year," he said. "That was awesome. The other person I'd like to meet is Pedro Martinez."

Name game: He actually resembles Martinez to the point that teammates call him "Pedro." Somebody taped a picture of Martinez to Ramirez' locker as a prank last year.

Pregame routine: Will not shower or shave within 5 hours of a start, "to keep the body warm." It was a habit he picked up in Nicaragua.

Athlete he'd pay to watch: Manny Pacquiao.

Most memorable athletic moments: Signing as a free agent with the Mariners in 2005. He used a good portion of his $30,000 signing bonus to fix up his house . . . Threw a one-hitter in the Venezuela Summer League in 2006.

Most forgettable: Being hit on the shin when a fan threw back a foul ball in Richmond last August. Ramirez wasn't seriously injured and the fan, who was identified by the club but not named, was banned from Richmond's home games for life.

Favorite sports movie: "Major League"

Hobbies: Listening to music, mentoring kids.

Hitter he'd love to face:

Albert Pujols.

Ballparks he'd love to play in (besides CBP): Yankee Stadium, Seattle's Safeco Field.

Dream dinner guests: His mom, Barack Obama, Jorge Posada.

Parting words: "My mind," he said, pointing to his right temple. "Everything is about the mind and trying to be confident. If I'm confident, I'm good with everything. If I'm not confident, I'm going to start thinking too much."

- Ed Barkowitz