Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays looking for adjustments from Erik Bedard

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon came right out and said that LHP Erik Bedard is not pitching to keep his spot in the Rays rotation when he takes the mound today.

But Maddon also seemed clear that after a rough first start (3-2/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits), they expect to see Bedard do better, and do things a little differently based on some suggested changes.

"No, he's not pitching for his job right now," Maddon said. "But we want him to look at some of this info and really try to incorporate it. And he did last time."

Without getting into too much detail, Maddon said one suggestion was for Bedard to use his fastball that tops out at 90-92 mph "in other ways."

Bedard, 35, had pitched only six innings (four in a start at Triple-A Durham, two in relief for the Rays) when he started Friday and said getting back on a normal schedule should help.

So, too, Maddon said, should regular work to build arm strength.

"There's a lot of under-the-surface things with him, too, that we like," Maddon said. "And if he keeps making these small adjustments and gets his arm strength up and stretches out, I'm anticipating good out of him."

If Bedard doesn't improve, the Rays would look to Triple-A Durham, though top prospect RHP Nathan Karns had a brutal outing Wednesday and is 2-2, 8.02 in five starts.

SIMPLE MATH: Maddon had an interesting idea regarding the mistake made by the umpires then by the replay crew in New York, which acknowledged after Tuesday's game it erred, in losing track of the count during SS Yunel Escobar's fifth-inning at-bat:

Adjust Escobar's stat line to reflect the walk he actually earned and take away the strikeout he was given, albeit on a 4-and-2 pitch.

"It has no impact on the game whatsoever, and the fact that there's visual proof that that's exactly what did happen, why wouldn't you do that?" Maddon said.

Told that other record-keeping would be off because the Rays would have made only 23 outs rather than 24, he suggested an asterisk for a "team out."

"They made a mistake," he said. "I'm not here to vilify anybody, but I do believe the way to make it retrospectively good or whole is by giving Escobar the walk."

LINING UP: Maddon made two interesting lineup decisions.

One was leaving LF David DeJesus out because he did so well Tuesday in breaking out of his slump, not wanting to retard his progress in a suboptimal matchup vs. Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey, who has been tougher on lefties. DeJesus did get in late, going 0-for-2.

The other was putting Ben Zobrist in leftfield and Logan Forsythe at second base, the reasoning that Zobrist is the better outfielder, thus the better choice with Rays starter RHP Jake Odorizzi more of a flyball pitcher.

Maddon made the somewhat surprising assertion that Forsythe "probably has our best outfield arm."

MEDICAL MATTERS: LHP Matt Moore is set to return to the bay area after his successful Tommy John elbow surgery Tuesday. Moore had a tendon from his left wrist moved to his elbow, as well as the original ligament repaired, and the nerve in the elbow transposed. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson played catch and threw pitches on flat ground Wednesday with no issues from his right elbow (January arthroscopic surgery) and is in line to throw off a mound for the first time in the next week. … RHP Alex Cobb played catch for the first time since straining his left oblique on April 12.

MISCELLANY: Maddon on Friday will be among seven community honorees at the Brooks-DeBartolo Champions Breakfast in Tampa featuring NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. … RHP Brandon Gomes and DeJesus visited patients at All Children's Hospital.

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