5/11/2014 7:37 P.M. ET
Bedard rounding into form
By Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Erik Bedard, who was released by the Rays late in Spring Training and then re-signed with Tampa Bay three days later, is now showing why the Rays signed him last February in the first place.
"I'm always a slow starter, so the first couple [starts] were rough," said the left-handed Bedard, who has now won two in a row, allowing just one hit in six scoreless innings against the Indians on Saturday night.
"He has a good feel for pitching besides having some good stuff," said manager Joe Maddon. "I think he's gotten better. He used his fastball a lot, which I like, and he pitched well with it."
Maddon said he considered sending Bedard, who had thrown 101 pitches, back out to start the seventh inning.
"I probably had 10 pitches left," Bedard said with a grin.
The 35-year-old Bedard, who signed a Minor League contract with the Rays on Feb. 17, was released on March 25 and became a free agent, exercising an "opt out" clause in his contract after not making the starting rotation. On March 28, it was announced that Bedard had changed his mind about opting out of his contract, and had agreed to report to Triple-A Durham. On April 11 he was called up by the Rays.
Rays playing lengthy games
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's not the length of so many of the Rays' recent games that bothers manager Joe Maddon. It's the early morning drive home afterwards.
"I don't get all bent out of shape about it," he said. "I just hate getting home at 1 o'clock in the morning after a 7 o'clock game."
The Rays have played a Major League-high five games of four-plus hours this season. Including Saturday's relative "quickie" (3:03) against the Indians, the average of their last 11 games was 3:43 -- with only one extra-inning game.
"The games have really been long," Maddon continued. "It's too much. I don't notice it during the games. But I really feel it when the game is over. I take my time a little bit after the game, but not a lot. I'm driving home and I think, 'Whoa! Where did that [time] go?' I don't like 'em that long."
Of the Rays' first 37 games, 28 have lasted longer than three hours, and 14 have gone longer than 3:30.
"We do have some guys who like to take a lot of time between pitches," Maddon said. "We like to see a lot of pitches, too. We are a patient offensive team. So there's a lot of pitches by both sides.
"The replays have to play into it somewhere. Either way, there's time consumed. And [Jeremy] Hellickson's not even pitching," added Maddon, referring to injured right-hander, who averaged 25.6 seconds between pitches last season.
Reliever Joel Peralta takes 34.7 seconds between pitches. Josh Lueke takes 30.5, and Brandon Gomes 29.2 seconds.
Sunday's starter Chris Archer leads all Major League starters with 26.6 seconds between pitches. David Price is second at 26.2.
"It works for me to be at my own pace," Archer said in self defense. "I need to go out there and compete to the best of my ability. If I have to slow down, if I need to take an extra breath, that's what I'm going to do."
Mom throws out first pitch at Trop
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Connie Webb, the winner of the Rays' Honorary Bat Girl Contest, threw out the first pitch and was recognized in ceremonies before Sunday's 6-5 loss to Cleveland.
Webb was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009, and was diagnosed again a year later with a second, more aggressive strand.
Since then, Webb and her family have raised over $50,000 annually for cancer research through Relay for Life.
Seven members of the Rays' starting lineup -- David DeJesus, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria, James Loney, Wil Myers, and Yunel Escobar -- all used commemorative pink bats on Sunday.
Logan Forsythe, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, also used a pink bat.
In the first inning, Joyce belted a home run into the right-center-field seats, using a pink bat, to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. In the fourth inning, Joyce delivered an RBI single, scoring Zobrist.
Themed road trip a nod to Woodstock
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon, who showed up at the ballpark wearing a wig and in full hippie regalia on Sunday, hopes turning back the clock to the days of Woodstock, when he was 15 years old, will bring peace and harmony to the Rays' upcoming road trip to Seattle and Anaheim.
Of course, none of the current Rays were even born when Woodstock took place on Aug. 15-18, 1969, on a farm in White Lake, N.Y.
"It's going to be a difficult trip," Maddon said, looking ahead. "Seattle has got some of the best pitching on that side of the country, and the Angels are getting better."
This will be the Rays' 30th themed road trip since Maddon came up with the idea in 2008. The traveling party will dress in Woodstock theme on both the Tampa-to-Seattle and Seattle-to-Los Angeles legs of the trip.
The Rays hope this seven-game swing won't be as grueling as their last trip when they were called upon to play four games in two cities in just 51 1/2 hours.
Even so, finishing 5-5 after starting the trip 1-4 prompted Maddon to call it, "One of the best 5-5 trips in the history of the Rays."
• Former Rays closer Fernando Rodney, who has recorded 10 saves in 11 opportunities in Seattle, has told the Seattle media he is looking forward to showing the Rays they were wrong to let him go.
"I was working to stay in Tampa, but they let me go," Rodney said. "They didn't sign me back."
• Assuming all goes well in Alex Cobb's simulated game in Port Charlotte on Monday, he will make a rehab start for Class A Advanced Charlotte next Saturday.
• Hellickson plans to throw another bullpen session (fastballs and changeups only) off the mound on Tuesday, and he will again throw a few curveballs off flat ground at that time. If that goes well, he may try a few curves off the mound in his next session on Friday.
"I feel good today, that's really all that matters right now," Hellickson said.
• Tuesday will mark Price's first career start in Seattle -- even though the Rays have made six trips to Seattle and played 20 games there during the left-hander's career.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.