KANSAS CITY -- Ever mindful of the wear on the starters' arms, the Rays are going to a six-man rotation for the coming weeks.
Following Friday night's start by Wade Davis, the Rays' rotation will follow this order: Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price, James Shields and Davis.
"Part of our concerns are that Helly doesn't get too many innings and that Shields and Price are trending really high," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They're still going to be really high within their capabilities for the season. But the fact that [Cobb] has done so well, we thought that we could go with this right now and it benefits everybody.
"So by doing it, hopefully we're not losing anything. We're still going to try and pop James and David in on regular rest on occasions against the appropriate teams. But primarily it was to limit Hellickson and also to put a little bit of a break on Shields and Price."
Maddon said life of the six-man rotation is "finite" and will probabaly run its course by the middle of August. Cobb's success has enabled the Rays to take this route.
"We could not do it without [Cobb] pitching as well as he has," Maddon said. "He's done great and it's that simple. It's a great concept and other teams would love to be able to do that. But as far as doing that and still believing that you remain competitive, and he permits that to happen."
Maddon's example keeps his Rays focused
KANSAS CITY -- Tampa Bay has had a lot of distractions recently from talk about the problems with Tropicana Field to making the playoffs, and all of the trade rumors. Manager Joe Maddon was asked how his team has managed to remain focused throughout it all.
"I really think a lot of it has to begin with a very simple concept," Maddon said prior to Friday's series opener against the Royals. "It is about one day at a time. It is about controlling the things that you can control. Things that are not within your control, you leave it alone.
"Furthermore, I think they see that I'm that way. And I think that may help a little bit. I'm not trying to applaud myself. I'm just saying you're always going to reflect the personality of the manager, regardless. Whatever the situation is, if the manager is a little more high-strung, they might get a little more high-strung.
"If they see me talking about big series, and road trips and you know, we need to improve, we need another bat. Then you probably would hear more of that from within our group. You don't hear that from me. I'm not going to go there. I want to believe that part of it is how I react to [the media's] questions. And the fact that it's become part of our culture and I want it to be that way."
Friday night marked the 700th straight game in which the Rays have started a pitcher younger than 30. The longest streak in Major League history was 704 games by the 1913-17 Washington Senators. The Rays are on track to match and surpass that record on Tuesday and Wednesday in Oakland.
James Shields (151 strikeouts) and David Price (137) have the most combined strikeouts of any other teammates in the Major Leagues. Entering Friday night's action, their 288 strikeouts were six more than the next closest pair of teammates, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay of the Phillies.
The Rays have signed right-hander Ryan Carpenter, their seventh-round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Gonzaga University. They have now signed 34 of their 60 Draft picks and 13 of their first 21.
Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos remained behind in St. Petersburg, Fla., rather than make the road trip. He is still recovering from a bad throat infection.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.