Friday marked the Tampa Bay Rays debut of Erik Bedard. The veteran lefty went up against the Baltimore Orioles and hoped to start his spring off the right way. Instead, his former teams’ reserves made his spring debut not go as well as planned as the Orioles beat the Rays 4-2.
Bedard allowed 3 runs on 3 hits in his inning of work, striking out 1 while walking 2. He left pitches up in the zone and payed for it, allowing a leadoff double to Jemile Weeks, an RBI single by Steve Clevenger, and a 2-run single by Alex Gonzalez. Nevertheless, Bedard was happy to get his pitch count up–he threw 25 pitches in the game–and throw his secondary pitches for strikes. Bedard did throw some good curveballs, but the issue was his fastball, which is not the same as it was in his peak. Bedard will take the positives from this game and hope to get better results next time out.
Heath Bell followed Bedard by throwing an inning of his own, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 1 while walking 1. He struck out Michael Almanzar with a nasty slider to begin his outing and also spent time working on his splitter. The remaining seven Rays pitchers all tossed scoreless innings, but especially impressive were Nate Karns and Cesar Ramos. Karns showed an excellent slider as he struck out 2 in a perfect frame while Ramos also pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Jake Odorizzi‘s outing did not begin well as Kevin Kiermaier lost a flyball in the sun that turned into a double, but he worked around a pair of baserunners to keep the Orioles off the board. He spent his inning working on his changeup and did not show too many nerves as he began competing in the fifth starter competition that is his to lose.
On the offensive side, Yunel Escobar got off to a nice start, going 2 for 2 with a double, but the other eight Rays starters went hitless. The two Rays RBIs came from Jerry Sands, who laced a run-scoring double under the glove of Almanzar, and Justin Christian, who contributed an RBI single. Jayson Nix, Sean Rodriguez, and Mikie Mahtook had the other three Rays hits. The Rays offense did little against Chris Tillman, who went 2 innings allowing just a hit while striking out 3, and their two later runs did not prove enough. The good news: the result does not matter and Rays hitters have plenty of time to get into a rhythm. Tomorrow, the Rays will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1 PM in Bradenton with David Price set to make his spring debut. The game will be the first that WDAE broadcasts this spring.