Monday, May 28, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays name Jake Odorizzi fifth starter

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays finally decided on their fifth starter Saturday, tabbing rookie RHP Jake Odorizzi for their rotation.

LHP Cesar Ramos will go back to the bullpen. The team hops veteran LHP Erik Bedard will stay with the organization at Triple-A Durham, but he'll first explore other big-league opportunities prior to the March 31 opt-out date of his minor-league deal.

Manager Joe Maddon said it was a "very difficult" choice after a great competition, but what put Odorizzi over the top was his "body of work," from his performance in September to his new pitch, a split/changeup, which "has been spectacular."

Odorizzi, 23, who had trouble sleeping Friday night and didn't find out until after Saturday's game, was emotional over the news.

"It's incredible. It's kind of indescribable right now," Odorizzi said. "I feel honored to be picked out of the three, because any one of us could've gotten it."

Odorizzi is replacing RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who will likely miss the first two months after January elbow surgery. Maddon said Ramos, a late-developing candidate, made it "very, very hard" on them with an impressive spring. Maddon said Ramos might pitch in higher-leverage moments in the bullpen and still could start if need be.

"He opened our eyes," Maddon said. "He showed us a different Cesar in camp."

Maddon said Odorizzi, considered by many to be the organization's top prospect, showed a lot in the last of his five big-league stints last year, with a 1.04 ERA in his final four appearances (two starts). This spring, the team wanted him to develop his split/change, taught to him by RHP Alex Cobb, a pitch Odorizzi believes can be a "huge weapon."

"It's taken me to a different level in a short amount of time," he said.

Maddon told Bedard before the game that he wasn't getting picked but that the club thought he fit into its culture and would like to keep him. Bedard seemed open to it after Friday's start but will check out his options. "He's still a Ray as of right now," Maddon said.

Odorizzi and Ramos didn't find out their fates until around 6 p.m., both anxiously waiting in the clubhouse until the postgame meetings.

"It was a prolonged day," Odorizzi said. "But it was worth it in the end."

GAME DETAILS: Cobb was sharp Saturday, striking out 12 in a seven-inning start of a 3-3 tie with the Orioles. "Outstanding," Maddon said. Cobb allowed three runs on six hits (including a homer by former Ray Delmon Young) in his first big-league exhibition since March 7. Cobb, who had pitched in minor-league games since, said all three pitches were working in an 88-pitch outing. "Today as a whole was exactly what I needed," he said. The Rays are 14-5-3.

MEDICAL MATTERS: SS prospect Hak-Ju Lee "tweaked" his surgically repaired left knee sliding into third, but Maddon said it's not considered a "long-term" or serious issue.

MISCELLANY: OF Matt Joyce, sidelined since Wednesday with a stiff neck, is expected to play today against the Twins. … Though RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo's spot in the bullpen is open, the Rays consider it a short-term absence; he'll likely stick to pitching in minor-league games this spring so his disabled list stint can be backdated. … Maddon said one issue left to sort out with the lineup is whether to hit 3B Evan Longoria third or fourth.

     
   
Comments
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Martin Fennelly: A column to match Rays’ upside-down pitching

Martin Fennelly: A column to match Rays’ upside-down pitching

  In the spirit of the Rays' topsy-turvy pitching alignments, last goes first in this column. Go to the end to start reading. "The buy-in that we get, the buy-in to each other, and the team effort has been really fun to be part of to this point," C...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 10 hours ago
For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking of openers, the Rays will start RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) for the fourth time this season, the second time in 48 hours vs. the Orioles. The 35-year-old Romo did not make it out of the first inning Friday, allowin...
Published: 05/27/18
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18