Rays Name Jake Odorizzi As Teams Fifth Starter, Cesar Ramos To Bullpen
Two-weeks before the opening of spring training the Tampa Bay Rays announced that right-hander Jeremy Hellickson required surgery on his achy right elbow and he’d miss the first 6-8 wees of the season.
After their game with the Baltimore Orioles Joe Maddon announced that right hander Jake Odorizzi would be the teams fifth starter and Cesar Ramos would head to the bullpen.
The moves left Erik Bedard with the decision whether to report to the Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls or opt-out of his contract and explore other options.
Odorizzi was acquired as part of the James Shields trade last winter and appeared in seven games for the Rays in 2013 including two starts and posted a 0-1 record with a 3.94.
With the Durham Bulls he made 22 starts and went 9-6 with a 3.33 ERA. While competing for the fifth rotation spot he has been working on developing a change up with teammate Alex Cobb which has been dubbed “the thing”.
His process began last September in his two appearances covering 6.2 innings of scoreless work and over the winter he was asked to work on the new pitch. “It’s a whole body of work,” Maddon said. “We just feel that Jake is the right guy for this particular moment.”
The emotion was hard for Jake Odorizzi to put into words. “I don’t think I’d do a good enough job describing how I’m feeling right now.” He admits that today was a long day and that he didn’t get much sleep last night. “I maybe got about two hours of sleep,” Odorizzi said. “Way too much to think about knowing that today was the day, we didn’t know the timing of it or anything like that.”
As for the new pitch Odorizzi says it’s taken him to a different level in a short amount of time. “It’s really become a good pitch for me.” He was quick to thank teammate Alex Cobb for helping him get the grasp of the pitch in quick fashion.
Ramos was acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Jason Bartlett deal prior to the 2011 season He has spent parts of the last three seasons in the Rays bullpen appearing in 124 games (1 start) delivering 141 innings posting a 3-3 record with a 3.64 ERA.
When the Rays acquired him he had been a starting pitcher in the Padres minor league system and in early March his name was added into the mix for the rotation spot.
The competition elevated Ramos in his managers eyes. “I can definitely seeing him pitching in some high leverage moments as well as what he had done in the past,” Maddon said. “But also, if something were to happen we would still consider him a starter – if something were to happen early enough that he’d be stretched out.”
Despite having a slew of young arms to battle for Hellickson’s rotation spot (Alex Colome, Jake Odorizzi, Enny Romero, Nate Karns) the Rays went out and signed veteran Erik Bedard.
The 35-year old lefty is a veteran of 10 major league seasons and spent the 2013 season with the Houston Astros appearing in 32 games (26 starts) and posting a 4-12 record with a 4.59 ERA while logging 151 innings. His contract includes a March 31st opt-out clause and he has indicated that he will exercise that opt-out clause to explore his opportunities if not part of the Rays rotation.
According to Chris Cotillo Erik Bedard is opting out of his contract:
Source: Erik Bedard is opting out of #Rays  contract.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) March 22, 2014