Rays Spring Game 10: Jake Odorizzi Hopes to Pull Away From Competition

By Robbie Knopf

The favorite to win the Tampa Bay Rays’ fifth starter job, Jake Odorizzi, still has not made a start in spring training. Today, that will finally change as the Rays take on the Boston Red Sox at 1:05 PM at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. Here’s the Rays’ lineup.

1. Logan Forsythe, 1B
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Wil Myers, RF
5. Sean Rodriguez, CF
6. Jayson Nix, 2B
7. Wilson Betemit, DH
8. Ryan Hanigan, C
9. Brandon Guyer, LF

Starting Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi

In his first two spring training outings, Odorizzi has gone just an inning each. After his second outing, though, Odorizzi kept throwing to keep building up his arm strength, and in this game, they will finally let him loose for as many as four innings. Odorizzi hopes to impress the Rays, and the key to doing that may be the continued development of his changeup. If it continues looking strong, the fifth starter competition is over. Odorizzi, like everyone else, will also be working on his fastball command, and it would be nice to see more consistency from his slider after he hanged a couple in his last outing.

Appearing later in the game will be Odorizzi’s principal competitor, Erik Bedard. Bedard looked much better in his second outing, and he will hope to carry that into today. Bedard’s curveball remains impressive, but it will come down to the success of his fastball and changeup to determine whether he still has something left to give as a major league pitcher. Bedard is also set for four innings today if he stays efficient with his pitch count.

This game represents the first spring training start for Wilson Betemit after visa issues delayed him from reporting to camp. Juan Carlos Oviedo is now the only player yet to report. Betemit’s lost time only exacerbates the fact that he is a long-shot to make the team, and he will have to start with a bang to change that.

A quartet of players in this game–Forsythe, Rodriguez, Nix, and Guyer–are all auditioning for the role of platoon player against left-handed pitching as they go up against Red Sox starter Jon Lester. The Rays are looking for a pair of backup infielders and a backup outfielder who can hit lefties, and several of the favorites for those positions will hope to distinguish themselves. Forsythe and Rodriguez have to contend with not only facing a lefty, but also playing new positions–first base for Forsythe and centerfield for Rodriguez. If Rodriguez playing centerfield could be an affront to Brandon Guyer, as Rodriguez playing there would reduce the need for a strong defensive outfielder like Guyer or Kevin Kiermaier. Guyer will hope to overcame his misplay on Sunday and show something at the plate to make sure everyone knows that the backup outfielder job is his for the taking.

After the Boston Red Sox brought nine minor leaguers to their game against the Miami Marlins the other day, it will be nice to see the Rays taking this game seriously as Evan Longoria and Wil Myers will take the field. Rays fans will be hoping for some fireworks–and Myers would certainly like to start getting revenge on the Red Sox after his tough ALDS.

The game will be broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.TV. Enjoy the game, and check back at Rays Colored Glasses for the recap later today.