Rays give Erik Bedard chance to revive career

Published February 15 2014
Updated February 15 2014

PORT CHARLOTTE — Veteran LHP Erik Bedard hasn't done much well the past two seasons, going a combined 11-26, 4.78 for the Pirates and Astros.

But the Rays took the low-risk gamble of signing the 34-year-old to a minor-league deal Friday to see what he has left as they seek a fifth starter in Jeremy Hellickson's absence and potential bullpen help.

"He's a guy that we've liked in the past, and we're anxious to get him in here and be around him more," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He'll come in to compete for the fifth starter's job. I don't know how that will transpire. And he's also a candidate to pitch out of the pen."

Bedard was an effective starter for the Orioles, winning 15 games in 2006 and 13 in 2007. But shoulder issues after a trade to Seattle derailed his career, and he has not been the same.

RHP Jake Odorizzi had been considered the favorite to replace Hellickson, who is projected to be out until at least mid May after right elbow surgery. The other primary candidate is RHP Alex Colome, who said the right elbow issue that sidelined him from late June on is healed.

"I'm ready to go," Colome said.

PRICE CHECK: Having expected to be traded, LHP David Price was eager to report to camp, joking he was the happiest man in Port Charlotte and celebrated driving into town on Toledo Blade Road when he crossed Price Boulevard.

"That's my street," he said.

Price said he knows there is no finality to the potential of a trade but being back at the complex and being around his teammates has made being back feel more real and it will continue to get that way, especially when he goes through his physical this morning.

"If I give blood, I'm not getting traded to somebody that doesn't have my blood yet because I'm not doing it twice," he said. "That is not happening."

Despite the daily uncertainty, Price, otherwise, had a "very good" and much more normal winter than after the 2012 season, when he won the AL Cy Young Award and traveling to a series of appearances disrupted his workout routine.

"After last season and all the stuff that had been going on, I think he's more settled in this year, and I really anticipate one of his better years coming up," manager Joe Maddon said.

BELL TOLLS: RHP Heath Bell said he welcomed the trade to the Rays and the opportunity for a fresh start after rough 2012-13 seasons in Miami and Arizona, having gotten a scouting report from re-signed 1B James Loney and former Ray James Shields.

"It just brings a big smile to my face," Bell said. "It seems like a really happy organization, a happy team. What's not to like?"

And Bell figures he should fit right into the Rays' free-spirited, no-rules clubhouse.

"That sounds perfect to me because my wife says I break all the rules," he said.

Overall, Bell said he put past, undisclosed personal problems behind him, has surrounded himself with a support group of faith-based friends and is excited for the season.

MISCELLANY: Many of the 40 pitchers and catchers were already in camp by Friday with the rest expected for today's first workout. Veteran relievers RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo and RHP Juan Sandoval might be delayed by visa issues. … Besides Hellickson, no other pitchers are expected to be restricted with the first bullpen sessions scheduled for this morning.