Rays have decided on 5th starter, but not saying yet
UPDATE, 7:15: Another hint that it's Hernandez; the Rays just said he will pitch three innings in a minor-league game on Saturday, which just happens to put him on schedule to start third game of season on full rest.
DEVELOPING: Rays manager Joe Maddon opened his pre-game media session here in Sarasota, umprompted, by saying, "Tomorrow.''
As in, the Rays will announce their decision on the fifth starter Friday morning. Maddon said they had made up their minds, and that as expected it was difficult.
"This has been a tough one,'' he said.
Niemann had the better spring but Hernandez has seemed the likely choice, especially as much as the Rays have talked about the need to get innings out of their starters.
If you are looking for hints in Maddon's comments, he did say that Niemann's strong outing on Wednesday made the decision tougher, which would suggest Hernandez was the pick.
The Rays also will announce the order of the rotation behind ace David Price. There is a possibility Hernandez could pitch third, following Jeremy Hellickson and ahead of Matt Moore in an effort to preserve bullpen depth. Under that scenario, Alex Cobb would be the fifth starter.