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Rays' Oviedo sees first MLB action since 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — Technically, you could say Thursday marked the first major-league appearance for Rays reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Officially it was his first since September 2011 with the Marlins, but he was known as Leo Nunez then.

That was before he was suspended for identity fraud issues, before he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery, before he opened this season on the disabled list after a lengthy visa delay forced the Dominican Republic native to miss most of the spring.

As Oviedo, he showed a promising changeup and an erratic fastball during 1⅓ innings Thursday. Manager Joe Maddon said once Oviedo regains command, he will work him into high-leverage situations.

"Obviously I was really happy to be out here (Thursday)" Oviedo said, through a team interpreter. "I felt okay. Thank God I've had the experience I had before this, so to be back on this stage and to do this feels good."

DAZZLING DESMOND: CF Desmond Jennings failed in a key bases-loaded situation in the eighth, but he made a sensational catch in the ninth, running down Trevor Plouffe's drive by extending his left arm just before crashing into the wall.

How did he do it?

"(Matt) Joyce asked me the same question — I don't know," Jennings said. "I felt like I could stretch farther that way than any other way."

A former star receiver on the football field, Jennings likened it to catching a pass on a fade route.

Odorizzi's issue: After a night's reflection, RHP Jake Odorizzi said he felt Wednesday's 6-4, 12-inning loss was "solely" his fault, as he pitched himself out of the game by the fourth by using too much off-speed stuff and running up his pitch count.

But he also suggested the issue might be more than physical, questioning his focus and competitiveness.

"It's just frustrating because I'm putting myself in bad spots," he said. "I don't know what it is, but that fourth inning, the second time through (the opposing order), if it's just a mental block or if I get too relaxed by going through and it's like I lose my focus. …

"The first three (innings) of every game have been really good. So I don't know if it's because I relax and think I've been through (the order) once, here we go again and lose that competitive edge. It shouldn't be like that."

The stats support his theory, as he has allowed a .121 average (4-for-33) the first time through the order in his four starts and .452 (19-for-42 after that).

Pitching in: The Rays rotation is a bit more tattered than they could have imagined, but RHP Chris Archer said his approach won't be any different when he starts tonight in Chicago.

"There's no more sense of urgency," he said. "There's not going to be any more effort in doing that because I can't give any more than what I give. I have the same mentality."

Archer has little experience with the Sox, having faced them only once in relief in September 2012. But he has gotten familiar with their high-octane lineup that ranks among the AL's most productive.

"I know they have some guys who are really hot right now," Archer said. "They have guys who hit a lot of home runs in the past. They have some speed. I don't treat it any differently. In my bullpen sessions this past week, I simulated facing all their hitters and just making pitches in different situations in my mind. Hopefully whenever I'm in the situation, it won't be foreign."

Miscellany: DH David DeJesus' two-run homer was his first of the season. He had five RBIs in the series after none in his first 14 games. … Seven runs were the Rays most in a loss since Aug. 7, 2013, at Arizona. … The eight walks issued were their most since July 4, 2013. … LHP Erik Bedard was the first Ray to walk four in the first inning since LHP Scott Kazmir in 2008. … The Rays packed their cold-weather gear for the 10-game trip that starts tonight in Chicago and takes them to Boston and New York, with low temperature forecast in the 40s in all three cities. … After crowds of 11,785 and 11,993 for two night games, the Rays and Twins drew 13,177 for Thursday's matinee, which included a senior prom promotion.

Rays' Oviedo sees first MLB action since 2011 04/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:22pm]

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