The Rays left Ed Smith Stadium Thursday night with a 4-4 tie to Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles who they’ll face next week in the first three games of the season. David Price looked sharp in his final start of the spring, one last tune-up before Opening Day if you will. Posting a 4 IP/1 H/0 R/1 BB/3 K slash line, David Price threw 51 pitches in his four innings of work, though he admittedly didn’t pitch the same as he will Tuesday in the regular-season opener.
“I feel like I threw some pitches that I might not have thrown in a real game situation. But I was able to get outs with it, so it is encouraging,” he said. “But you do pitch them a little different because you don’t want to throw them the same way you’re going to throw them in five days. So it works both ways.”
Price, who said that he felt as though something was missing earlier in the week, noted that he felt invigorated by pitching in a night game following his outing Thursday night.
“That was what we needed to do… That was good to lead up to the next five days. I felt good. My body feels great. Arm, back, legs, it all feels ready for April 2.”
If Thursday night’s action was an indication of anything, Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria are ready for Opening Day. Desmond Jennings went 4-5 in the lead-off spot with a stolen base and a run, while Longo went 2-3 with two runs and two RBI. Longo also hit a 400 foot plus blast to center field in the sixth inning, his second homer of the spring. Speaking of being ready for Opening Day, Luke Scott.
According to Marc Topkin, Luke Scott’s status for the opener remains in question. Topkin went out to say,
“Scott has been sidelined for nearly a week with right calf tightness, and though he felt well enough to run the bases during a workout at Tropicana Field and was said to have done well, he will return to action today as a DH in a minor-league game. That’s a sign of concern because it preserves the Rays’ ability to backdate a disabled-list move to Sunday (the day after his last major-league appearance) and would allow him to miss only six games and return April 8.”
Rays skipper Joe Maddon mentioned that it wasn’t necessary for Scott to play in Saturday’s exhibition finale to be on the active roster, “if legitimately he can look you in the eye and say ‘I feel a lot better, and everything looks pretty good.’ ” It bears mentioning that one of us here at X-Rays Spex may have a friendly bet with a writer from the Rays Tank. That bet is predicated on whether Luke Scott can get the bonus in his contract for 500 plus at-bats. This may be the dumbest bet ever.
The Rays announced their decision for the fifth starter Friday morning. Roberto Hernandez will get the last spot on the starting rotation, while Jeff Niemann makes the transition to the bullpen — at least for the time being. Joe Maddon said that they view Niemann as more of a starter than they did Wade Davis, who was put in a similar situation last year when he went to pen and stayed. Niemann’s role to start will be long relief, while continuing to build arm strength. Maddon also said that he sees his future role as a starter.
Based on match ups thru April, the Rays will have Hernandez pitch third in the rotation, followed by Matt Moore and Alex Cobb. According to a tweet by Roger Mooney of TBO, Maddon said they wanted to split Hellickson and Moore so a short outing won’t wear out bullpen on consecutive days.
“Though incumbent Jeff Niemann has seemed to pitch better this spring, free agent signee Roberto Hernandez seems to profile better — at least for the start of the season — and looks to be their choice,” writes Topkin
Niemann wasn’t particularly thrilled by the decision, saying,
“I couldn’t have done anything else to put myself in a better spot. It’s just where we are.”
The Rays will take on the Tigers in Lakeland Friday. RHP Jeremy Hellickson will get his last start of the spring in the early afternoon tune-up outing.
Rays 3/29/13 Starting Lineup:
- So, uhh…doing anything Saturday? Rays will play their final exhibition of the spring at Trop, with first pitch at 1:10 PM. All of the tickets are all GA in the lower bowl and cost $15.
- I really liked Jonah Keri’s take on the the fifth starter decision, “Love the hand-wringing over Fausto vs. Niemann. As if either of them are going to hold off Archer/Odorizzi/Colome for long.”