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Hernandez gets shot at Rays rotation

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays signed RHP Roberto Hernandez in December with the idea he could end up either in their rotation or their bullpen.

But for now they consider him a starter, and Hernandez said he hopes that remains the case.

"I want to stay starting, but I can't control that," Hernandez said Thursday. "I can only control pitching and working hard."

Manager Joe Maddon said Hernandez, a 32-year-old veteran of seven big-league seasons with the Indians (when he was known as Fausto Carmona), will get that opportunity initially, even though the Rays seem to be deep in starters.

"We will treat him as a starter right now," Maddon said. "If we choose to do something else, like with all the different candidates, then you would just do that later in camp. At the beginning we need to auger out innings as starters for a lot of guys. We'll treat him as a starter and then revert back."

Hernandez hasn't pitched in relief since his 2006 rookie season, making 150 big-league and 13 minor-league starts since. Would he be comfortable in a relief role?

"Good question," he said.

Overall, Hernandez said, he was "very excited" to sign with the Rays, especially after a 2012 season cut short when he was arrested in his native Dominican Republic and suspended due to false identity issues.

"Forget everything about last year," said Hernandez, who will make $3.25 million this season. "It's a new year this year."

As for not being re-signed by the Indians after 12 years in their organization?

"You're never surprised," he said.

Hernandez looks to be in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation with right-hander Jeff Niemann, who appears healthy after an injury-shortened 2012 season.

Prospect Chris Archer and newly acquired Jake Odorizzi, both right-handers, are also pushing for attention and consideration.

The Rays have LHP David Price, RHP Jeremy Hellickson and LHP Matt Moore set. Maddon said RHP Alex Cobb is "pretty much ensconced" as the fourth.

"I love the quality of the seven or eight, whatever it's going to be," Maddon said. "I love the quality of the decision-making there. It's going to be very difficult."

BRIGNAC to Rockies: One-time starting shortstop Reid Brignac was traded to the Rockies for cash considerations and a player to be named. Brignac was designated for assignment last week, and he and the Rays indicated a change of scenery might be best.

"I'm definitely going to miss being a Ray, but I'm excited for this new chapter in my life," he said.

After starting a team-high 76 games at shortstop in 2011, Brignac, a 2004 second-round draft pick, spent most of 2012 at Triple A. He didn't fit into the plans this season, especially with the acquisition of Yunel Escobar.

MISCELLANY: RHP Juan Sandoval reported after missing Wednesday's workout due to visa issues, leaving RHP Dane De La Rosa the only pitcher not in camp. … With INF Ryan Roberts, OF Jason Bourgeois and OF Wil Myers reporting, 15 of the 23 position players have been in. … RHP Joel Peralta remained sidelined due to a stiff neck but could resume throwing today. … Among pitchers who caught Maddon's eye with their bullpen sessions were Archer, Cobb, Moore and Odorizzi.

Hernandez gets shot at Rays rotation 02/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:27pm]

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