9/19/2013 8:19 P.M. ET
Crain targets weekend return after instructional game
By Bill Chastain and Sam Strong / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jesse Crain threw 20 pitches and allowed a home run in an instructional league game Thursday in Sarasota, Fla., which could be the final hurdle before the Rays activate the All-Star reliever.
Although he was not facing Major League hitters, Crain said pitching in a live game was important to his progress as he continues to recover from a right shoulder strain he suffered before being traded to the Rays from the White Sox in July.
"[It was important to] get in a little bit more of a game atmosphere, with guys running the bases ... just kind of to get a little more adrenaline, even though it was smoking hot out there," Crain said. "I just think it was a little bit of a step above a simulated game, as far as getting out there and throwing different pitches and stuff."
Crain is unlikely to appear for the Rays until Saturday at the earliest, but could be activated Friday, depending on how he feels.
"I feel comfortable," Crain said. "I threw strikes with all my pitches, which is the biggest thing to tell if I'm close to being ready or not. Ultimately, it's going to come down to what [the Rays] want to do, also. You want them to feel comfortable with me going into a game.
"Obviously that goes for me, too. I feel like as soon as I get into a game, I have to be a step above where I am. We'll just see how I feel tomorrow, and hopefully all is well and we'll make that next step."
Odorizzi joins Rays in advance of callup, bullpen role
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake Odorizzi is expected to be activated by the Rays on Friday, which would begin his fourth tour of duty with the club this season.
The 23-year-old is 0-1 with a 5.09 ERA in five appearances, four of which were starts. The right-hander arrived Thursday to the Rays' clubhouse.
Odorizzi credited his June 18 start against the Red Sox in Boston for helping turn around his season. He allowed one run on five hits without walking anybody in 5 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
"After that, everything went a lot better," Odorizzi said. "Confidence went way up, efficiency went up. It's kind of like a re-start to the season. It was awesome from then on out. I was really happy with the way I pitched."
Odorizzi said he was happy to be pitching well, finishing his season at Triple-A Durham with a 9-6 record and 3.33 ERA.
"It's the best time of year to have everything in order," Odorizzi said. "Just looking forward to doing whatever they need me to do up here. So I don't know what my role will be, but whatever it is, I will embrace it and be ready for it."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Odorizzi will start by working out of the bullpen.
"We'll see how it falls after that," Maddon said. "There's no specific plan yet, no."
Maddon said Odorizzi got better every time he came up with the team.
"I think the big thing that happened there was we got to understand him better," Maddon said. "And then we were able to help him regarding game planning. And I think that's where you saw improvement.
"I like him. I think he has good makeup. Fastball plays, good curveball, good slider. Everything plays. I just think it's a classic example of a guy understanding how to use his stuff more efficiently."
Speculation has suggested Odorizzi could make a start at the expense of struggling Jeremy Hellickson. Asked if Odorizzi could make a start, Maddon replied: "There's a chance, but we have not discussed that yet."
Maddon sits Myers after defensive lapse costs Rays run
ST. PETERSBURG -- Considering the blistering offensive numbers Rays outfielder Wil Myers has put up this season, sometimes it is easy to forget he is a 22-year-old rookie.
Adrian Beltre's RBI single in the top of Wednesday's 11th inning reminded everyone Myers is still experiencing many big league moments for the first time. Myers did not charge Beltre's ball hard, allowing Elvis Andrus to score from first base before the Rays eventually won, 4-3, in 12 innings.
"It wasn't a lack of effort," Myers said Thursday. "I just wasn't aware of the situation and who was on base. I just wanted to make sure the ball didn't get by me. I should have charged it with more aggressiveness."
Manager Joe Maddon called the play "unacceptable" and said it provided the right fielder with "a hard lesson to learn."
Myers has since talked with Maddon and several veterans in the Rays clubhouse, and is confident he will react appropriately if presented with a similar situation in the final 11 games of the season.
Maddon did not put Myers in Thursday's lineup, but said the decision had more to do with Texas starter Yu Darvish than with Myers' misstep in right field.
"I wanted him to understand the overriding impact it would have as a teammate and as he moves forward, how he would be viewed," Maddon said. "I want him to be viewed positively, and the thing he did wrong last night is totally controllable on his part. He understands all of that. I would be very surprised if it ever happened again. It was a good conversation."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.