Port Charlotte, Florida - Spring training is the time of year that any fan, and any player, believes the next season is their season. But for Rays' relief pitcher Cesar Ramos, this next year is a miracle no matter how he does on the pitching mound.
Every time Cesar Ramos steps on the mound, he knows anything can happen. But it's what happened off the field on October 21, 2012 that threw him a curve ball. His girlfriend, Melanie, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
"I was scared at first, then I was like, 'No way this is happening to me,'" says Melanie Ramos.
"Took my breath away. Just hearing the C-word, you can't think anything positive, you just kind of a whirlwind, but her attitude right after that was like, 'Alright what's the game plan?'" says Cesar Ramos.
First, there was an engagement. Then the game plan started on December 3 with Melanie's first round of treatment in California. Melanie would go through six months of chemotherapy during the Rays' spring training.
"It was tough to go to the field, especially on her treatment days, because I know how it really kicks her butt and the days following, and it was hard not to be there to help and to be there in spirit to tell her a joke or something to make her smile," says Cesar.
For her last round of treatment, he could make her smile. He surprised her in May, flying to Los Angeles right after a game in Colorado.
"I got there right before she did and I was waiting on the chair she usually sits on," says Cesar.
Melanie finished radiation on June 17, 2013. Spending time supporting Cesar and planning a wedding was all that was on their minds. Then in October, a year to the day she was diagnosed, she found out she was pregnant.
"Wow, this is really happening. Yeah, this literally is a miracle to be happening right now," says Melanie.
After being told there was only a 50/50 chance of conceiving naturally, Melanie and Cesar were having a baby. Getting an "all good" from their doctors meant relief and celebration.
"It's a miracle. It's like God's work at its finest, that this has all happened in such a short period of time," says Melanie.
And to top it off, their wedding was weeks away. They finished a year of the lowest lows and highest highs by getting married this January.
"Happy. Happy and thanking God that the past is the past and it's behind us and we're here together," says Cesar.
He'll start this season with a much different perspective.
"Just excited for the whole process, just to be a dad and be called daddy. That's something pretty special and I'm excited about it."
And no matter how he pitches this season, it will truly be a year of miracles.
"It just goes to show that anything could happen. Anything can happen, truthfully," says Melanie.
She's due at the end of June. They're not finding out the sex of the baby, but they've thrown around some names and maybe it's a parents' intuition, but they seem to be coming up with girls names much easier than boys. Melanie and Cesar tell me the Rays have been very helpful during this time making sure they have all the support they need.