3/19/2014 12:30 A.M. ET
Decision on fifth starter could come Saturday
Odorizzi, Ramos, Bedard still in the running to fill out back end of rotation
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A decision on who the Rays' fifth starter will be could be made as early as Saturday.
Jake Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos, and Erik Bedard are the remaining candidates.
Looking ahead, Ramos is scheduled to start Thursday night in Port Charlotte against the Twins; Odorizzi will also pitch in that game. Bedard will then start Friday against the Blue Jays at Charlotte Sports Park.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said a decision will probably be made "the next day after that," which is Saturday.
"We've got to make up our minds," Maddon said.
Bedard has an out in his contract if he does not make the Major League team, and he has made it clear that he would go elsewhere if he doesn't make the club due to the fact that there are many Major League clubs that need starting pitching.
Maddon understands Bedard's decision.
"We would not want to hold him back if he was not chosen," Maddon said. "I really like this guy a lot. He's really ingratiated himself to a lot of us in a very brief period of time. He's a professional. He's definitely still good. So it's just one of those things, where if in fact he wasn't a fit for us and he is for somebody else, you want him to take advantage of that opportunity."
Maddon said the possibility of losing the veteran left-hander would not influence the final decision. When asked if Bedard would be a bullpen candidate if he didn't win the fifth spot, Maddon said that given all the bullpen candidates the Rays have, "I think it would be hard to want to do that."
Coming into camp, the Rays knew they would have a stiff competition for the spot created by Jeremy Hellickson's right elbow surgery. The right-hander will be out until early June after having "loose bodies" removed.
"I don't think I could be happier with the way [the competition has] gone," pitching coach Jim Hickey said.
Price to use simulated game to line up for opener
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Price looked sharp in Sunday's start against the Red Sox when he threw 91 pitches while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings.
That performance set up the next step for the Rays' Opening Day starter, who will now pitch in a simulated game on Friday before finishing out his spring the following Wednesday against the Orioles.
By following that path, the Rays believe he will be stretched out to where he needs to be, and then he can back off with a short outing against the Orioles in advance of his start against the Blue Jays to start the season on March 31.
"He's in pretty good shape now physically, so they're going to create this game for him to pitch," Maddon said.
Myers moves to leadoff, responds with big game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Wil Myers entered Tuesday night's game against the Twins hitting .154 with one RBI and no extra-base hits this spring. While the Rays aren't making a big deal about the reigning American League Rookie of the Year's hitting -- or lack thereof -- they did employ a little twist by using him in the leadoff spot.
Rays manager Joe Maddon explained they just wanted to "give him a different look."
"Go up there and try to get on base," Maddon said. "Work at-bats and try to get on base. … Typically what we'll do during the course of the season with different guys -- try easier, stay in the middle, get on base, utilize your skills and that kind of stuff. I just want him to think differently."
Myers responded with three doubles in his first three at-bats before going down swinging to end the fifth.
"I liked it, it was cool, first time there, pretty cool to lead off the game," said Myers of his first taste of the leadoff spot in his professional career. "Last year, I had terrible spring as well. ... Just got some good pitches today. Was able to put some good swings on them."
Desmond Jennings, normally the team's leadoff man, smiled when asked what he thought of Tuesday night's leadoff man: "Same thing you thought of him -- three doubles."
• Juan Carlos Oviedo threw for 10 minutes on Monday and Maddon said, "He did really well. There are no negative residuals. He did fine." Maddon said they are optimistic the right-hander can pitch in a game by Friday. Oviedo is a late-inning bullpen hopeful, but had visa problems and did not arrive to camp until Saturday.
• Sean Rodriguez's tight left hamstring is doing better. He played in a Minor League game on Monday, and according to Maddon, "He was good. He was very good. They say it went really well." Maddon added that Rodriguez is slated to start in the infield Wednesday against the Orioles.
• George Pappas of the Rays' communications department has written his first book, "How the Cleveland Indians of the '90s Went from Cellar Dwellers to Playoff Contenders." According to ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, Pappas "provides a wonderfully comprehensive and personal account of the rise of the Cleveland Indians in the 1990s. I learned so much reading this book."
• James Loney fouled a ball off the lower part of his right leg before hitting an RBI single in his fourth at-bat Tuesday night. The Rays' first baseman left the game for a pinch-runner at that point. Afterward, he noted that he would put some ice on the bruise, but said he would be OK.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.