Rays days from decision on No. 5 starter

FORT MYERS — Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays will pick their No. 5 starter after watching the three candidates pitch once more each this week.

And one of those three, LHP Erik Bedard, said he likely will leave if not chosen and pursue a starting job elsewhere.

Though Maddon has said for several days that they were close to picking, the decision was made to have LHP Cesar Ramos start and RHP Jake Odorizzi work in relief Thursday, then have Bedard start Friday.

Bedard said if he doesn't make the Rays rotation he likely will exercise a March 31 opt-out clause in the minor-league contract he signed Feb. 14 rather than go to Triple A, noting a recent spate of injuries to starters around baseball.

"Every day it seems like a starter goes down," Bedard said. "So there's a lot of opportunities out there if I'm not on the team."

The Rays likely would let him go sooner anyway as a courtesy, plus they have to pay him $100,000 on March 25 if he's not added to the roster or released.

"We would not want to hold him back if he's not chosen," Maddon said.

MOORE PITCHING: LHP Matt Moore had another mixed outing in the 11-3 win over the Twins, clocked at 96 mph or better 10 times while working into the fifth, allowing one run on four hits but walking six, including four with two outs.

"Everything did feel good so minus the six walks a solid day, but those are definitely a black mark,'' he said.

Maddon called it "a great step forward,'' saying it was "the best stuff'' Moore has had since the 2011 playoffs and they'll take it figuring command will improve. Moore said simplified mechanics led to the increased velocity.

MORE PITCHING: RHP Chris Archer will throw in a minor-league game today rather than face the AL East rival Orioles. RHP Mark Lowe, pushing for a relief job, starts. … With Bedard starting Friday, ace LHP David Price avoids pitching against the same Blue Jays team he'll face 10 days later in the season opener and instead will work in a simulated game. … LHP Jake McGee and RHP Josh Lueke worked in minor-league games and will face the Orioles today in their first back-to-back outings. … RHP Joel Peralta also threw in a minor-league game and RHP Grant Balfour, who had a deal with the Orioles collapse over a failed physical, will do so today. … RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo came through his first BP session and is on track to make his game debut Friday or Saturday.

IF THERE'S A WIL: Maddon employed one of his regular-season tactics by moving struggling OF Wil Myers to the leadoff spot. Myers, who came into the game with four spring hits (all singles), doubled his first three times up.

"I want him just to think differently," Maddon said. "I know it's spring training but we're getting to the end and I want him to feel good about himself going into the season."

Myers, still a little sore from fouling a ball off his right leg Saturday, said he woke up feeling like he'd have a good day and enjoyed the opportunity. "It was good just to put a good swing on a couple balls," he said.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (a Grapefruit League best 12-4-2) rapped four hits, including three doubles, in a three-run first and posted 20 for the night. … 1B James Loney had three RBIs, giving him eight in two games.

MISCELLANY: C Eddy Rodriguez and OF Jeremy Moore were reassigned to minor-league camp. … INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, out a week with left hamstring tightness, played in a minor-league game and should be in the lineup today. … Tuesday was the Rays' 12th game of at least three hours.

Rays days from decision on No. 5 starter 03/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:35pm]

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