CHICAGO — Rays manager Joe Maddon said he had a talk with LHP Erik Bedard during the series against the White Sox during which he told Bedard it was time to turn it loose.
Maddon had been watching Bedard’s pitch count since he joined the team April 13, a move made because Bedard missed the final week of spring training while he tried to find a job with another major-league team. But after throwing 90 pitches in four innings during his loss to the Twins his last time out, Maddon said it’s time for Bedard to pitch as deep into a game as he can, beginning with tonight’s start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Maddon said he told Bedard, “The blanket’s off, so go. Just go. Get deeper into the game because you can. You have the stuff to get deeper into the game. You have the experience to get deeper into the game. We’ve been trying to give him some kind of ideas and thoughts to deal with to get deeper into the game, so go do it. He’s very capable.”
Maddon said the team has given Bedard some adjustments to make and encouraged Bedard to pitch the way he has in past seasons, but wouldn’t elaborate. Maddon also maintained Bedard’s five-walk outing, including four in the first inning, was not as bad as it appeared.
“I’m telling you man, play back the tape. He just could not get that call on the inside edge, and that put him behind the 90-pitch ball after four innings,” Maddon said. “He actually threw the ball a lot better than that, so I’m encouraged with what he’s doing.”
LF David DeJesus was the designated hitter again Monday as Maddon continued to allow DeJesus to rest his sore left shoulder. Matt Joyce started again in left field.
“There’s been no rush on it for me, because I think Matty’s done a great job out there,” Maddon said. “That was part of the gig in the beginning when you have this revolving door with the DH, then you can do these different kinds of things on defense.”
DeJesus injured his shoulder trying to make a diving catch against the Yankees’ Scott Sizemore during the second inning of the April 18 game. DeJesus said he banged his shoulder on the hard surface at Tropicana Field.
“It’s getting better,” DeJesus said. “I’d probably say we’re at like 85 percent. We’re right there, just got to get a little more strength and we’ll be all right.”
Both DeJesus and Maddon said DeJesus should return to left field either Tuesday night or Thursday, when the Red Sox are throwing right-handers. Playing in Fenway Park’s short left field will prevent DeJesus from making long throws and won’t tax his shoulder.
Maddon said RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right shoulder surgery) felt good one day after throwing off the mound for the first time since his Jan. 28 surgery.
Maddon also said RHP Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) has progressed to throwing from 90 feet during his throwing program.
Rays radio broadcaster Dave Wills was stuck for 30 minutes Monday in a hotel elevator. He also wore a red Chicago Blackhawks jacket to the game in a nod to his favorite hockey team that advanced to the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday. ... Maddon received a bottle of wine before Friday’s game from White Sox manager Robin Ventura. ... Tuesday night is the 1,000th game since the team changed its name to the Rays. ... The Rays and White Sox won’t play again for 142 days. ... Maddon, team president Matt Silverman, RF Wil Myers, OF Brandon Guyer and RHP Heath Bell will attend the Rays’ Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon May 9 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. Maddon lets those attending make that night’s lineup. The TCC is undefeated.