The time has finally arrived for some Ray’s baseball. On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays faced against the Baltimore Orioles in Port Charlotte to start off spring training. Cesar Ramos was projected to start but instead the newly acquired Erik Bedard got the start and he got rocked hard in the first inning as the Rays fell 4-2 in their first spring training game. Yunel Escobar collected two hits for the Rays on Friday. Ramos is usually used for long relief situations but he could get chance to fight for that fifth starting rotation spot this spring as Jeremy Hellickson is injured. David Price only gave up one run as he took the mound on Saturday vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rays had an early 1-0 lead on Saturday but then trailed 2-1 heading into the ninth inning until a homer tied the game in the ninth. The game ended in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings while the Rays only collected six hits. Alex Cobb got the nod on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins and looked solid. Evan Longoria gave the Rays a 3-0 lead on a two-run blast in the third inning. The Rays' offense then took over and came up with the victory 6-3 on Sunday while scattering 13 hits.
This is the time of year for pitchers to really fine tune their game. Many players are fighting to be on the big league roster this spring. Jake Odorizzi is the favored pitcher to fill the starting rotation. He looked good in his one inning of work on Friday. Nathan Karns also looked on point on Friday while Alex Colome looked sharp on Saturday as he worked out of a jam. One of these three will likely be the fifth starter so keep an eye on their numbers this spring. The pitching will be the big question this spring training. Pitching has been a key to success for the Rays the last few seasons so these guys need to fill some big shoes. These young pitchers need to be prepared and ready to go if they want to succeed this season. The Rays will not have an everyday designated hitter. Joe Maddon will play his numbers game as Tampa Bay will rotate between Matt Joyce, David DeJesus, Sean Rodriguez and maybe even the new utility man Logan Forsythe as their DH. Jayson Nix is also another utility player fighting to make the roster this spring.
The Rays face the Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles before coming into town in Dunedin to face off against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Spring ball is very important. It allows for coaches to examine the talent on the field and make the correct decisions for the roster. Usually when the Rays play good spring ball they also have a great start to the season. Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are going to find the right group of guys to have on this roster for Opening Day on Monday, March 31st. For now Rays' fans will continue to wait and see who will fill the hole in the starting rotation.