Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Race for Tampa Bay Rays' No. 5 starter remains close

Carlos Hernandez kept himself in contention for the final spot in the rotation, even though he allowed three runs against the Jays.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Carlos Hernandez kept himself in contention for the final spot in the rotation, even though he allowed three runs against the Jays.

DUNEDIN — The race for the fifth starter's spot remains so close it might take until the final week of spring training to be resolved.

And the Rays would be perfectly fine with that.

"I'm glad it's not easy, and I hope it doesn't get any easier either," pitching coach Jim Hickey said after Friday's 3-1 loss to Toronto. "It's a lot more fun to make these difficult decisions than it is to have these things cut and dried unless someone is just head and shoulders above everybody else."

Friday, two leading contenders had good but not great outings.

LHP Carlos Hernandez allowed four hits and three runs over the first four innings, throwing his fastball in the 87-89 mph range. He was most troubled that two of his three walks came to the first two hitters in the third — "I hate to do that," he said — and both scored.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "The main thing is to show them that I'm healthy. And I have to prove that I'm able to get big-league hitters out, and that's what I've been doing so far."

RHP Jason Hammel, facing reserves in the last three innings, allowed two hits and a walk but no runs and considered it an improvement from his last outing.

"I'm just trying to show them that I am supposed to be here and I should be that No. 5 guy," said Hammel, who allowed four runs over three innings against the Red Sox on March 7. "I'm going to do my best to make sure it's a tough decision."

The most consistent candidate, thus far, has been RHP Jeff Niemann, who is scheduled to work in relief today. Less likely options are RHP Mitch Talbot and LHP David Price.

"Everybody so far that's gone out there has done basically what they're supposed to do," Hickey said. "No one has done anything to take themselves out of the picture."

FRONT AND CENTER: With B.J. Upton continuing to feel good in his recovery from left shoulder surgery, the Rays might not need another contingency plan to fill centerfield in light of the dislocated left wrist that will sideline Fernando Perez for three months.

But because they won't know about Upton until the end of spring and they are always thinking things through, they are pondering several possibilities.

With Justin Ruggiano becoming the favorite to be on the roster if Upton isn't ready, one scenario for manager Joe Maddon is platooning in centerfield in addition to right. The plan would be to play Ben Zobrist in center and Gabe Gross in right against right-handers and use Gabe Kapler and Ruggiano against lefties, though Maddon has not yet thought through who would play where.

PITCHING IN: RHP Jason Isring­hausen is scheduled to make his spring debut Sunday, and Maddon said he is eager to see how the 36-year-old veteran's bullpen sessions translate into games.

"He threw the ball well (Thursday); much better command; great sink on the two-seamer," he said. "Then the cutter came off of that, and his velocity was good."

Troy Percival is scheduled to make his second appearance of the spring Sunday. Price will make his second outing Monday night in Bradenton in relief of Andy Sonnanstine.

RHP James Shields will stay on schedule for his opening day start by pitching for Durham or Montgomery in the minor-league exhibition opener against a Minnesota farm team on Tuesday's off day in Port Charlotte

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (7-7) didn't get their first hit until two outs in the fourth when Shawn Riggans singled. He then was hit by Reid Brignac's grounder to end the inning. … LHP Brian Shouse made his fifth appearance without giving up a run but has allowed eight hits.

MISCELLANY: OF Matt Joyce, sidelined all spring with lower right leg tendinitis, is tentatively scheduled to make his debut Thursday at DH. … The Rays will play without the DH today for the first time this spring, meaning starter Scott Kazmir will have to bat."

Race for Tampa Bay Rays' No. 5 starter remains close 03/13/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 14, 2009 6:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.