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Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE — Having spent the offseason preparing for a spot in the rotation, RHP Matt Andriese said he was initially "shocked" when told Sunday that he will begin the season in the bullpen.

"Ultimately, I'm not happy with the decision," Andriese said. "But at this point, where I'm at, you got to roll with it and just do the best to my ability. I'm not by any means mad about it. I'll just take the opportunity and learn from it and go on."

The Rays will start with a four-man rotation, something they feel they can pull off thanks to eight off days in the first 38 days of the season. Andriese, who has appeared in relief 28 times during his big-league career, is the best suited of any of the experienced starters on the staff for a move to the pen.

"It gives them a little more security knowing I've done it in the past and have success doing it," Andriese said.

Andriese, 14-14 with a 4.55 ERA in 44 career starts, said he was glad to learn of the move when he did so he can prepare his arm for the near-daily workload of a reliever.

When asked if the plan is for him to return to the rotation when the schedule requires a five-man rotation, Andriese said, "I think it's more about to be determined at that point. This is the plan, stick to that and go from there once mid-May comes around."

Miller's time

Manager Kevin Cash liked what he saw from 1B Brad Miller during batting practice Monday.

"He looked like a healthy Brad where he was really generating some backspin and driving the ball all over the place," Cash said. "I know it was BP, but it's good to see him smiling and doing what he did in 2016."

Miller will primarily play first base, where he finished in 2016. He also will see some time at second, where he played last year.

"Versatility is not a bad thing," Cash said. "If he's healthy we're probably going to want that bat in the lineup quite a bit. He's just got to be going into the season being healthy."

Miller said he is healthy after core muscle surgery in the offseason. As for his role, "We're just kind of let that play out."

Brad Miller at bat during the Tampa Bay Rays’ first full-squad spring workout on Feb. 19 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)

Timing is everything

The Rays launched a blog Monday. The name: Ray Tank.

That's what many fans think the Rays are doing by slashing payroll with Saturday night's moves that saw RHP Jake Odorizzi traded and LF/DH Corey Dickerson designated for assignment.

What's on second?

Cash said Micah Johnson, Daniel Robertson, Ryan Schimpf and Joey Wendle will see time this spring at second base. So will Willy Adames, though Adames will primarily play short. Schimpf and Robertson will also get time in the outfield.

Joey Wendle throws during the Tampa Bay Rays’ first full-squad spring workout on Feb. 19. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)


• RF Steven Souza missed Monday's workout because of a family matter. Cash said he is not injured and is expected in camp Tuesday.

• 1B C.J. Cron was expected to arrive in St. Petersburg on Monday for his physical and join the team Tuesday.

• Estimated attendance the Monday was 600, the largest for the first full squad workout in several years. That it fell on Presidents Day might have played a role.

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Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen