Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Maddon finally ready to unveil fifth starter
Manager Joe Maddon said the decision on the fifth member of the Rays’ rotation was reached before Thursday’s game against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.
“There is white smoke,” he said.
Yet, Maddon wanted to wait until this morning to announce the rotation because he had yet to talk to both pitchers.
Two signs, though, pointed to RHP Roberto Hernandez remaining in the rotation and RHP Jeff Niemann going to the bullpen.
First, Maddon said that Niemann’s six scoreless innings of two-hit ball Wednesday made the decision tougher.
“Yeah, it did make it a little more difficult,” he said. “But, again, I’m just not into in-game performances right now.”
Then, the team announced Hernandez will pitch three innings Saturday in a minor-league game, a move that could be interpreted as a tune-up for a start five days later.
Maddon said a decision between the two pitchers was made because they had to make a decision.
“This is just how it’s going to break,” Maddon said. “Things change during the course of the season.”
Daily Scott update Luke Scott will DH today in Triple-A game, a move that will see if his tight right calf is ready for Opening Day and, if not, can backdate his trip to the disabled list to Sunday. That would make him eligible to return April 8.
“We’ll see when the bell rings (today), we’ll see how he feels,” Maddon said. “Can he go out and do all that? Not ask him to run as hard as he can, obviously, but just be able to see where it’s at, because we need to know.”
Maddon said Scott can be ready for Opening Day even if he doesn’t play in the final exhibition game Saturday against the Tigers at Tropicana Field.
“Legitimately, if he can look you in the eye and say, ‘I feel a lot better and everything looks pretty good.’ Of course we’d rather have him play,” Maddon said. “But we haven’t decided if that’s a hard and fast moment. He has to play in order for us to be comfortable.”
If Scott starts the season on the disabled list, the player called up to replace him will depend on how many games Scott is projected to miss.
“I don’t know, because it depends on the length of not ready, if that would be the case. The length matters, it really does when it comes down to making the decision on who you’d bring up and putting people on and off the (40-man) roster,” Maddon said.
Price vs. the O’s LHP David Price pitched four innings Thursday night against the Orioles in his final tune-up before his Opening Day start Tuesday against … the Orioles.
For a team that likes to keep things under wraps as much as the Rays, Maddon said they had little choice but to have Price face the team he faces in five days.
Price could have pitched in a minor-league game if he hadn’t already done that twice this spring.
“The major thing is he needs to pitch against a major-league lineup and pitching at night is not a bad thing, either,” Maddon said.
Price breezed through the Orioles, holding them to a hit and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings.
“It’s a little different,” Price said. “I felt like I threw some pitches that I might not have thrown in a real game situation, but I was able to get outs this way and it is encouraging. You do pitch a little bit different, because you don’t want to throw them what you’re going to throw them in five days.”
About the schedule Maddon said he would not be opposed if the Grapefruit League schedule was adjusted in future years so the American League East teams don’t face each other during the final week of the season, especially those slated to open the regular season together.
“If you could knock out the AL East teams the last week or 10 days that would be great,” Maddon said. “As many National League lineups we could face would be great. I’m sure the Phillies would like that and the Pirates.”
Maddon also would like the final week of Grapefruit League games to be played at night so the players can get themselves on the same schedule they will be on during most of the regular season.
Who’s on First? Price and OF Sam Fuld taped a “Who’s on First?” routine earlier in camp that will be shown Sunday night on “SportsCenter” as part of the 75th anniversary of the Abbott & Costello skit.
“I remember doing it as a really young kid for school,” Fuld said.
Said Price, “It was a lot of fun. It’s something I grew up hearing about and not really knowing the whole story. To be a part of it is fun.”
Price said they flubbed many of their lines as did some of the other major-leaguers who appear in the feature.
“We just got confused. I guess that’s natural,” Price said. “But when he kind of learned Who was on first, What was on second, it was fun and we were able to go with it.”
Game stuff Price looked ready to go after breezing his way through his outing in what became a 4-4 tie.
“David was really good. He was really sharp with everything,” Maddon said.
3B Evan Longoria had two hits, including a home run to center field, and drove in two runs. DH Desmond Jennings was 4-for-5.
“Longo’s been looking good at the plate. Desmond looks good at the plate right now,” Maddon said.
RHP Juan Sandoval came in with runners on first and second, one out and the score tied in the ninth and got Steve Pearce to hit into a double play.