PORT CHARLOTTE — Manager Joe Maddon said he expects to announce the fifth starter today.
“It’s not easy,” Maddon said. “They’ve all represented themselves extremely well. We just got to try and figure out how this thing fits and who’s going to give us the best chance to win coming out of the gate.”
LHP Erik Bedard, competing with LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Jake Odorizzi, pitched 52⁄3 innings Friday in the Rays’ 5-0 loss to the visiting Blue Jays. He allowed four runs on eight hits.
Still, Maddon said he liked what he saw Friday from Bedard and liked what he’s seen from Bedard this spring. Maddon said the same of Ramos and Odorizzi.
Bedard’s curveball Friday was the best he’s thrown all spring, Maddon said. He likes the improvements Odorizzi has made with his new pitch, the change-up/slider he learned from RHP Alex Cobb and calls “The Thing.” Maddon said Ramos was the best he’s ever been during his Thursday night outing against the Twins.
“Stuff that we’ve been asking them to do, they’re doing it,” Maddon said. “Odorizzi gave up four runs (Thursday). I really don’t care. Bedard gave up a couple of runs, that’s not the point. You got to really look under the hood and try to figure who plays best for us as the season begins.”
Bedard, signed to a minor-league contract, has allowed 25 hits and 13 runs in 17 innings.
“The other guys I’m competing with are really good,” Bedard said. “It’s hard to make a decision, I’m sure. They’re going to crunch some numbers and go with their gut feeling.”
Bedard said this week he would invoke the opt-out clause in his contract and look for a chance to be in the rotation of another team if he doesn’t make the Rays rotation. He said Friday that won’t necessarily be the case.
“The opt out is just because a lot of guys have been hurt,” he said. “I think probably everybody would do the same thing. Nobody would get hurt, I’d go with the flow, probably go to Triple-A.”
Oviedo not ready for opener
Maddon said Thursday that the chance of RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo being ready for Opening Day was “in jeopardy” because of the time he missed this spring while waiting for his work visa.
Oviedo, who hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since September 2012 because of reconstructive elbow surgery, agreed.
“I understand I probably won’t be ready to open the season because I haven’t pitched in a long time,” Oviedo said. “So I’m just going to go with them, whatever they decide to do with me, I’ll just go with it.”
Behind the dish
Maddon has said the team acquired C Ryan Hanigan to catch, but he won’t say how much Hanigan will catch this season.
C Jose Molina started 87 games last season. He will start fewer this season, but Maddon said Molina could start a significant number of times.
“I haven’t gone deeply into that, regarding if there is a benefit for one guy over the other,” Maddon said. “I think it’s going to be more based on hitting matchups a lot for J-Mo and for Hanigan.
“If I had to guess, I’d say Hanigan should get 51 percent or more of the snaps.”
LHP David Price threw 106 pitches in seven-plus innings in a simulated game Friday against minor-league hitters. Despite not throwing in a big-league game, Price said he took some steps forward. He didn’t have a three-ball count until the final hitter in the seventh inning. ... 1B James Loney was 2-for-2 Friday and raised his average to .433. ... RHP Heath Bell pitched in his second straight game. ... RHP Joel Peralta pitched an inning and is scheduled to pitch this afternoon against the Orioles. ... Former Rays All-Star C Dioner Navarro had a hit Friday for the Blue Jays.