3/8/2014 1:08 P.M. ET
Rotation hopeful Odorizzi to make first start Monday
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi is scheduled to start for the Rays against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday.
The 23-year-old right-hander is one of several candidates trying to nail down the fifth spot in the Rays' rotation while Jeremy Hellickson rehabs following right-elbow surgery. For Odorizzi, the start would be his first of the spring.
Because Odorizzi has pitched in relief, he has not been able to operate like a starter by establishing a pregame routine.
"I did talk to [pitching coach Jim] Hickey about making sure those guys [candidates for the fifth spot were] rotated," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Because just from the outside looking in, I don't want them to think somebody has an advantage based on slotting or pole positioning."
Odorizzi has made two appearances and pitched two scoreless innings, which prompted Maddon to note that he has "looked pretty good" despite not starting a game.
"As we say, he's been Cobb," said Maddon, referencing the changeup Alex Cobb is teaching Odorizzi this spring. "That's where that split, changeup, freakazoid pitch is coming from. And it looks pretty good -- 'The Thing.'"
Odorizzi allowed that there has been a lot of "tinkering" in his career while finding the changeup that suited him.
"Some grips work for some guys and don't for others," Odorizzi said. "I found a grip last year that I liked, but it wasn't an outstanding changeup by any means. I kind of asked [Cobb] if he would show me his grip a week and a half ago, and I've been able to pick it up easy."
Odorizzi noted that Cobb has been giving him feedback on the progress of his pitch.
"I play catch with him about every day," Odorizzi said. "So it's nice to get that feedback. I'm just trying to pick up as much as a can so I can get it game ready."
Archer eagerly awaits matchup with Yankees
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer is excited about starting against the Yankees on Sunday in Tampa, Fla., since facing a division rival is a good litmus test for how he's progressing this spring.
However, the right-hander really hasn't reached the point of Spring Training where he's pitching like he would during the regular season. Archer allowed that would come later in the spring when "you really start honing in" and when he needs "to practice things that I'm going to use" in regular-season games.
"I'm not just going to throw 2-0 offspeed every time," Archer said. "I think it's a little later in Spring Training."
Like most starters, Archer's priority is to stretch himself out for the season so he can pitch deep into games that count. But while that's a priority, there are certain things about his nature that dictate how he performs.
"I'm always trying to compete and always trying to execute," Archer said. "I don't view [a Spring Training start] as just practice, because I'm still trying to not give up hits. So I'm still trying to execute pitches always, maybe not in the same ways that I am during the season, but I'm still trying to execute."
Given the fact he's pitching against the Yankees on Sunday, and that he will likely face other American League East rivals this spring -- since all of them conduct their spring operations on the west coast of Florida -- Archer was asked whether he worried about those appearances allowing the hitters to gain some familiarity with his pitching, how he might set them up, etc.
"I think there's two ways you can look at it," Archer said. "You can look at it either as they're going to see me and get more familiar with me, or I'm going to see them and get more familiar with them. And that's how I choose to look at it.
"I'm getting familiar with [some] of the teams that we play the most throughout the season. And I'm going to take something from each and every at-bat and say, 'All right, if I give him a pitch, I know where I can go with this guy,' because I've had success against him in the past."
Seitzer could join Rays again in Dunedin
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- One of the feel-good moments of the spring took place Friday in Dunedin, Fla., when Rays Minor League prospect Cameron Seitzer homered in front of his father, Kevin, the former Major Leaguer who now serves as Blue Jays hitting coach.
Cameron's blast came in the ninth inning of the Rays' 6-3 win over the Jays, when he connected on a 2-0 pitch from Todd Redmond and deposited the ball on the other side of the right-field wall.
The Rays drafted Cameron out of the University of Oklahoma in the 11th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He spent last season at Double-A Montgomery, where he hit .268 with six home runs and 61 RBIs. He has performed well when given the opportunity this spring.
Thus far he has been called up twice from Minor League camp to appear in games with the Rays. In those stints, he has hit two home runs in four at-bats, making him the only player in camp with multiple home runs this spring. His first Grapefruit League home run came a week ago in Bradenton, when he sent the game into extra innings with a ninth-inning home run against the Pirates. Friday's homer expanded the Rays' lead to four runs.
The Rays travel to Dunedin on Wednesday to play the Blue Jays again. Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked if Seitzer would be asked to make the trip.
"He's got to," Maddon said. "He's had two ninth-inning home runs. One tied it and one gave us a cushion [Friday]. I don't know a lot about him. He's a nice kid. And to do that in front of his dad, a pretty special moment, and it just worked out really, really well. And I was happy for him. I know Kevin. Kevin's outstanding also. It was a great day for the Seitzer family."
Seitzer's father was a two-time All-Star who played 12 seasons in the Major Leagues for the Royals, Brewers, A's and Indians. Cameron stands 6-foot-5, which is six inches taller than his father.
Rays make cuts, send eight to Minors camp
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Eight players were sent to Rays Minor League camp on Saturday.
Three of the players -- left-handers Enny Romero and Mike Montgomery and right-hander Alex Colome -- are all on the 40-man roster, so they were optioned.
Meanwhile, right-handers Matt Andriese, Merrill Kelly and Victor Mateo, along with outfielder James Darnell and catcher Luke Maile -- all non-roster invitees -- were returned to Minor League camp.
The reduction leaves 55 players in camp, though the Rays will have one additional player among their numbers once Juan Carlos Oviedo arrives after dealing with visa issues.
• Outfielder David DeJesus will be out of action until Monday due to soreness in his right side. "Nothing serious," Maddon said. "He's just a little sore."
• After experiencing visa problems that delayed his arrival to camp, Wilson Betemit joined the Rays on Thursday. The veteran infielder appears in good shape and could see his first action with the Rays on Monday, when they play the Red Sox in Fort Myers. Maddon also allowed that Betemit could see some action in Minor League games to get at-bats.
• The Rays' public relations staff came up with an interesting note on Matt Moore. The left-hander went through a three-game stretch in 2013 when he posted an 0-3 mark with a 13.96 ERA. If those results were extracted from his season's results, he would have finished with a 17-1 record and a 2.35 ERA.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.