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Rays' McGee works on off-speed options

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays LHP Jake McGee is working on an answer to the complaints that he can't be effective throwing only a fastball.

Two answers, actually.

McGee is throwing a curveball and a changeup this spring, with plans to incorporate both into what now could be an intriguing three-pitch arsenal.

"Hitters will have more to think about," McGee said.

McGee threw a career-high 92.4 percent fastballs last season, per fangraphs.com, mixing in a somewhat ineffective slider/cutter hybrid.

The curveball was part of his repertoire when he was a starter in the minors, and he believes it should be a more effective complement with the greater speed differential.

"I've been able to throw it for strikes decently," he said. "It's something where it's going to look like it's going to be a strike and then be in the dirt."

The changeup, which he also used to throw more often, will be used vs. right-handed hitters.

JACKED-UP JENNINGS: CF Desmond Jennings showed up noticeably bulked up, putting on at least 10-15 pounds of muscle — he wouldn't say exactly — to stay stronger.

"I get here every spring and I probably lose at least 10 pounds, so I feel I'll be around what I want to play with once the season starts," he said.

Jennings said he is open to hitting wherever works best in the order. Manager Joe Maddon last week mentioned returning Jennings to the leadoff spot, but he said he also liked what Jennings did in the six-seven spots in terms of driving in runs, and "if he's gotten that big, which I've heard from other people, we'll see."

ONLY THE LONEY: 1B James Loney reported speaking highly of the experience of playing for the Rays, saying the comfortable atmosphere was a primary reason he re-signed, getting a three-year, $21 million deal.

"It kind of felt like that feeling I was looking for," Loney said. "I want to win with these guys. It would be fun winning with these guys. It's just that feeling you want to experience. I knew this place, I knew the people here, I knew they were committed to winning."

PITCHING IN: After watching two bullpen sessions, Maddon praised veteran LHP Erik Bedard. The late addition, on a minor-league deal, will compete for the final rotation spot.

"I think he could be a really interesting component to what we're doing here," Maddon said. "He seems to be eager, he seems to like it. A lot of good things going on there. This guy's good. He was good last year (4-12, 4.59 for Houston), and this guy could be really good. It's up to us to uncover some of the things that he may have gotten away from."

LHP David Price said he felt very good in throwing his second bullpen session, working with new C Ryan Hanigan. … Maddon said veteran RHP Heath Bell "looks like he's in really good shape. … He's been working hard."

MISCELLANY: Bedard's contract calls for a $1.15 million base salary if he is in the majors and a series of bonuses based on games started that, from eight to 30, could add up to $1.625 million. He has a March 23 opt-out. … The Rays were down a catcher as Eddy Rodriguez was ill with stomach issues and was sent home. … RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and non-roster Juan Sandoval missed their third workouts, delayed in their native Dominican Republic due to visa issues. … Tickets, at $125 each, are available on raysbaseball.com for Maddon's Thanksmas event in the Ted Williams Museum during Saturday's Fan Fest at the Trop.

Rays' McGee works on off-speed options 02/17/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 17, 2014 8:47pm]
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