Rays Spring Training Game 1 Preview: Erik Bedard Starts the Party

By Robbie Knopf

We’ve made it–not to the regular season, but at least to a major milestone. Today is the Tampa Bay Rays’ first spring training game as they will take on their division rival Baltimore Orioles at 1:05 PM at Charlotte Sports Park. There’s no broadcast of the game, but the Orioles’ radio station will broadcast the game, so make sure to listen in if you have MLB.com’s Gameday Audio. Here is the Rays’ lineup.

1. David DeJesus, LF
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. James Loney, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Matt Joyce, DH
6. Wil Myers, RF
7. Desmond Jennings, CF
8. Jose Molina, C
9. Logan Forsythe, 2B

Starting Pitcher: Erik Bedard

The veteran right-hander Erik Bedard gets the start for his first game as a Tampa Bay Ray. The 34 year old is coming off a pair of tough years but still struck out 8.2 batters per 9 innings in 2013 and may still have something to give. Bedard will provide competition with Jake Odorizzi for the fifth starter role and could also work his way until a bullpen role. It will be interesting to see what he can do.

What is interesting about this lineup is that other than the absence of Ben Zobrist, this could really be a lineup the Rays could use during the regular season. With Jennings proving himself inconsistent, we could see him more at the bottom of the lineup with the experienced leadoff hitter DeJesus starting things off. In any event, it will be exciting to see (or at least hear) quite a few of the Rays’ starters take the field, and hopefully they can get their preparation for the season off to a good start.

Other pitchers who will be making the trip are Heath Bell, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Kirby Yates. New Rays setup man Bell also makes his Rays debut, and we will also get to see Odorizzi begin getting his work in, a trio of bullpen candidates starting their competition, and three more prospects trying to prove themselves. It will be fun to see them all, but the pitchers to watch are Odorizzi, who hopes to emerge as the Rays’ fifth starter right from the start, and Karns, who the Rays gave up Jose Lobaton and a pair of prospects to acquire.