Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

New Ray Odorizzi impresses

PORT CHARLOTTE — Blue-chip OF prospect Wil Myers has gotten most of the attention as the centerpiece of the trade that sent RHP James Shields and others to Kansas City.

But the Rays are excited about some of the other pieces they got back, and they got a good look during live batting practice Tuesday at one, RHP Jake Odorizzi.

"We keep talking about the delivery, and his ability to throw the ball where he wants to, I can see why: it's very simple," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm also seeing good makeup. I'm seeing the real calm demeanor even when he's out there. When you speak to him you kind of get that from him, and then you watch him and it's the same thing, and it's kind of nice. So he's very interesting."

David Price and most of the Rays' other starters gathered behind the cage to watch Odorizzi, and they, too, were impressed.

"Great stuff," RHP Alex Cobb said. "Price said he looked like a little (Zack) Greinke out there."

Odorizzi, 22, made it to the majors with the Royals at the end of last season but is likely headed to Triple-A Durham to wait his turn with the Rays. For now, he is just trying to fit in and not try to impress his new bosses, focusing on the drill at hand.

"I knew that people were going to be watching since it was the first time, but I just wanted to go out there and not do anything different than what I normally do," he said.

PITCHING IN: Look for RHP Roberto Hernandez to start Saturday's home exhibition opener vs. Pittsburgh, with RHP Jeff Niemann among those working in relief. The Rays had the scheduling misfortune of a split-squad opener, so they also have to staff a game in Fort Myers vs. the Red Sox. Prospect RHP Alex Colome is a candidate to start there. … RHP Joel Peralta said his stiff neck is all but gone and he expects to resume throwing on schedule. … RHP Juan Sandoval, the reliever who is blind in one eye, was pleased with his first batting practice session, though Maddon said he may have been "a little over-amped." … Cobb threw, as usual, without the protective screen many pitchers use, saying he feels it limits his extension.

IN THE SWING: Myers, who just tracked pitches during his first live batting practice session Monday, said he felt good enough Tuesday to start swinging. And that he did, taking a half-dozen hacks against LHPs Cesar Ramos and Jake McGee, fouling a few off but connecting on a couple line drives.

"I felt good in there," Myers said. "My timing was good. I was able to make some good contact on a couple balls, and I laid off some pitches that I needed to."

McGee said he was impressed, especially the way Myers took a middle-in fastball to rightfield. So, too, was Ramos: "You can tell he's strong, has some raw power."

MISCELLANY: There was work on bunt defense plays before batting practice and an extended session of situational hitting afterward. … INF/OF Ben Zobrist will speak and wife Julianna will sing in a free show at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Petersburg's First United Methodist Church (212 Third St. N).

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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