Despite struggles, Rays hope Erik Bedard can help

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were hoping for more but probably not expecting a lot from veteran pitcher Erik Bedard when he started Friday night's game against the Yankees.

Having pitched for five teams over 11 major-league seasons, the hope is Bedard, 35, could use his experience to settle down a pitching staff that has three starters on the disabled list. He's a savvy lefty who changes speeds but not expressions.

"He's all those good things you're looking for with that veteran guy," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think we've been able to unearth some things that will enable him to pitch better in the very near future."

But Bedard had only pitched six innings since the end of spring training, including four at Triple-A Durham. The rust showed a bit Friday as he was touched for four runs, all in the second inning, on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 32/3 innings. He left with the Rays trailing 4-0.

"He did not pitch badly," Maddon said. "I liked a lot of what he did tonight. I watched and the velocity came down a little bit, just showing he's not stretched out enough."

Up, up and away: Coming off his worst start in the majors, Chris Archer faces the Yankees tonight. He gave up seven runs and 12 hits in his last outing against the Orioles.

Maddon said Archer's inability to keep the ball down might have been the result of overthrowing a bit.

"I thought he was up, and the thing is they weren't missing it," Maddon said. "Sometimes you can do that and get away with it. The ball is fouled off. But they were swinging, they put a lot of balls in the opposite gap. To their credit, they didn't miss out mistakes.

"Could be over boogying, trying a little bit too hard some times, trying to do too much with the pitch. Trying to make even a better or best pitch good is fine. Just go out there and stay within yourself and not try to get more out of it and think you have to do more. That's the thing I'm trying to get our guys to guard against."

Archer says he expects to bounce back. "Everything is a learning experience, whether you have your best game or your worst game," he said.

Jennings sore: OF Desmond Jennings didn't start because of lingering soreness in his legs. Jennings was a designated hitter Thursday and Friday he had a pinch-hit single in the seventh. "Yeah, he was a little bit sore (Thursday) and he's still sore again today and I want to make sure it doesn't get to become a chronic problem," Maddon said. "(Hiroki) Kuroda can be tough on anybody but on righties in particular." Maddon said Jennings is day-to-day.

Boxberger optioned: Pitcher Brad Boxberger was optioned to Durham after his two shutout innings Friday. The Rays said a corresponding move will follow today.

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com.

Despite struggles, Rays hope Erik Bedard can help 04/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, April 19, 2014 12:17am]

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