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Maddon lines up Rays rotation for season

Rays manager Joe Maddon says that he considered different options for how to line up his starting rotation for the regular season, but he finally opted to go with the order he used all spring training. The regular season begins Monday at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays manager Joe Maddon says that he considered different options for how to line up his starting rotation for the regular season, but he finally opted to go with the order he used all spring training. The regular season begins Monday at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays.

SARASOTA — The Rays looked at different ways they could present their rotation during the regular season.

But in the end, manager Joe Maddon said they decided to "play it straight up," the same order as they used all spring.

After LHP David Price starts on opening day, it'll be RHP Alex Cobb, LHP Matt Moore, RHP Chris Archer and RHP Jake Odorizzi.

No matter how they line up, Maddon loves the staff.

"All our guys present pretty difficult to the other side," Maddon said. "I'm certain that other teams that see our rotation when coming into town, they're not really pleased about it."

FULL PEN: Though nothing is official on the final two bullpen spots, Maddon indicated that nothing will change, so RHPs Brandon Gomes and Josh Lueke have made the team. That has been apparent for days since the Rays released veteran RHP Mark Lowe. "There's nobody coming in," Maddon said. "The guys that you think are on the team probably are."

It sounds as if RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, as expected, won't be ready to start the season. It's just a matter of what procedural move the Rays will make.

juiced up: The Rays (16-6-4) beat the Orioles 4-3 to clinch the Grapefruit League title. The last two times Tampa Bay had the best Grapefruit League record (2008 and 2010), it won the American League East title. "Let the grapefruit juice flow," Maddon said. "And make sure it's Tropicana grapefruit juice."

game details: Cobb was uncomfortable at first in Thursday's final spring start, giving up back-to-back hits to start the game. But he made an adjustment, settling in for a strong four-inning outing, allowing just one run on three hits. "A good little last-minute lesson," he said. … 3B Evan Longoria hit his third spring homer and a double. … 1B James Loney had an RBI double and has hit .419 this spring. … INF Wilson Betemit had the go-ahead RBI with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly.

LEANING LEFT: For the second straight game, OF Matt Joyce — batting leadoff — beat the defensive shift with a bunt single down the third-base line. Maddon said that if Joyce does that occasionally during the season, he could add 15 points to his batting average, and much more to his confidence.

"If they're going to give it to me, I'm going to take it," Joyce said. "Why not?"

Joyce admitted that he can pull the ball "excessively sometimes" and that when he's most successful, he's driving the ball the other way, something he has been working on this spring.

"He's adapting to just playing the game more, and not trying to force the game," Maddon said "He's listening and he's trying, and it can really make a big difference as it moves forward."

WIL POWER: RF Wil Myers, hit in the left leg with a pitch Wednesday, wasn't in the lineup Thursday, but Maddon said he's fine and will play today. Along with Myers and both catchers (Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina), Joyce and INF Sean Rodriguez will also play today.

IN NIX OF TIME: Veteran INF Jayson Nix hasn't been with the Rays since they told him Tuesday that he wasn't in their plans for the opening day roster. But Maddon said Nix hasn't been released, they're just giving him plenty of time to consider his options, hoping he'll stay and go to Triple-A Durham.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Maddon lines up Rays rotation for season 03/27/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:44pm]
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