03/28/12 10:05 PM ET
Rays announce order of starting rotation
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Everybody knew James Shields would start Opening Day since that annoucement came earlier in camp, but the rest of the order will be as follows: David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Jeff Niemann.
"We've been talking about [the rotation] for the last couple of days, I feel comfortable about that," manager Joe Maddon said. "As we're setting that whole thing up we're not just thinking about the first series. We're thinking pretty much about the whole month ahead. So we looked at all the different variables involved, and we came to [this] conclusion."
That means the Rays will send Shields, Price and Hellickson up against the defending American League East champion Yankees in the opening three-game series at Tropicana Field. Moore, Niemann, and Shields will then pitch the three-game series in Detroit against the AL Central champion Tigers.
"I think it's awesome, first game in Detroit," Moore said. "Just thinking about it today, it's probably going to be a little chilly there. I'm pretty excited knowing which game I'm going to pitch now. And now it's just a matter of getting through the rest of Spring Training."
Hellickson, last year's AL Rookie of the Year, noted that the order of where they are pitching "doesn't really matter" based on the competition. After the stop in Detroit, the Rays will finish the road trip with a four-game set in Boston and three games in Detroit before coming home to face the Twins and Angels. They will finish the month with a trip to Texas to play the Rangers.
"It's going to be a tough month, but hopefully we start winning some games here at the end of spring and we'll be all right at the beginning of the season," Hellickson said.
Moore smiled when talking about the coming month, but he tempered his comments by saying the start of the season is "a ways off."
"I'm still trying to finish up my last two starts here in Spring Training, but I'm definitely excited for Opening Day, then here comes the second series," Moore said. "Obviously, as a team we're focused on the first series of the season then [Niemann and him in Detroit]."
Upton to begin season on disabled list
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- B.J. Upton told reporters on Wednesday that he will begin the season on the disabled list.
Upton, who has not played in a Major League exhibition game since a March 14 outfield collision with Desmond Jennings, said his main problem deals with his back "getting tight."
"Won't loosen up," he said. "Other than that nothing major is going on. I just think it's getting it loose and keeping it loose. I haven't been able to do that yet."
Earlier on Wednesday, Upton was asked whether his lower back felt good enough to play and Upton answered: "Maybe, but I don't think they're going to let me."
Manager Joe Maddon, Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, and Upton sat down prior to the start of Wednesday night's game against the Pirates to discuss his situation. That's when they decided it would be best for Upton to start the season on the disabled list.
"We're going to have to [put him on the DL], we talked to him before the game," Maddon said. "The whole point is that in the beginning we thought it was going to be less time. Obviously, it is not. We've been forcing a finish line on this whole thing all the way through. So we took the finish line away and permit him and [head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] to do their thing and for B.J. to get well without any kind of definitive ending in sight. We don't know what that means. Just get well, work on it ... See how that all plays out without a certain date."
In Upton's absence there are myriad candidates for the job, including Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Elliot Johnson and non-roster free agents Jeff Salazar and Jesus Feliciano.
Four trimmed from Rays' spring roster
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Four players were cut prior to Wednesday night's game against the Pirates.
Pitcher Bradon Gomes headed the cuts, as he was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Catcher Chris Gimenez was reassigned to Minor League camp, while pitchers Marquis Fleming and Ryan Reid were told they were not going to make the team. Both will remain with the team to help with the load of exhibition innings facing the team the remainder of camp.
"I kind of figured it," Gomes said. "You could tell with the numbers, and having not thrown well during the spring. It only makes sense. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to get everything worked out and get back to where I need to be to help the team out when they need me.
"I'll go down there, and get back to where I was at at the end of the year. I need probably another couple outings. From watching video, I don't feel I'm far off."
Gomes had a rough outing on Tuesday against the Red Sox, when he allowed five of the six hitters he faced to reach base.
Gomes had minor back surgery during the offseason, but he has insisted all spring that he feels fine physically, even though his velocity has been down. The only thing the right-hander can pinpoint for a possible reason for his current state was being a little bit behind.
"That's the only thing I can think of, because physically I feel good," he said. "I probably started throwing three weeks to a month later [this year] than I normally do. So I think that's it right now. Mechanically, I'm not very good right now."
Gimenez, who was in competition to become the team's backup catcher, handled the news with optimism.
"I still think there's plenty of opportunity here," Gimenez said. "Just because it's not at the onset doesn't mean that it can't happen at any point in the season. You just have to kind of take that attitude into it. You can go down and be Bitter Bob about it, or you can go down and be your normal self ... I don't plan on being Bitter Bob."
Fuld hopes to get on field this season
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Sam Fuld will not be heading to Cleveland until Sunday to get a second opinion on his injured right wrist.
He will see Dr. Thomas Graham at the Cleveland Clinic to determine whether rehabbing the injury or surgery is the best option. In either case, Fuld believes he will be ready to play at some point this season. Should surgery be necessary, Fuld will likely have the surgery on Tuesday.
Shortstop Reid Brignac (sore right foot) played for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, when the team traveled to Fort Myers to play Boston's Triple-A team. He played five innings at shortstop and two at second base, going 1-for-4 at the plate with a home run and a strike out.
"Reid had a really good day," manager Joe Maddon said. "Hit the ball really well again, had to jump a couple of times with no negative impact. We have to talk to him about his next step."
Brignac said he felt good, and that he hoped to play with the Rays in a Major League game on Thursday.
Desmond Jennings (right shoulder) said that his shoulder felt fine and that he will play in the field on Thursday.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.