SPRING TRAINING: Schultz, Whitley odd men out, Odorizzi feels good after final start; preview of today’s Rays game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) faces the Minnesota Twins during the second inning Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park (Sun Photo by Tom O’Neill).

PORT CHARLOTTE — The announcement of demotions for Jaime Schultz and Chase Whitley was half surprising.

Whitley seemed poised to head down to Triple-A Durham and be first in line to be called up as a starter if an injury were to occur with the Rays.

But Schultz appeared the have the inside track to grab the bullpen role that Austin Pruitt earned,

Schultz had a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings, and wasn’t being held to every five days – as a normal starter would – the way Pruitt was.

“I think all of those guys had really solid springs,” manager Kevin Cash said. “The difference – I don’t even think that I would want to compare them. We think the world of Jaime Schultz and are very confident he will help us here really soon.”

Even more surprising, if Schultz were to be sent down to Triple-A it was assumed that meant that he’d be a starting pitcher there. But according to Cash, Schultz will serve as a reliever with Durham.

Purely speculating, that could mean Schultz might see his way up with the big club sooner rather than later in 2017 if maybe someone like Jumbo Diaz doesn’t work out.

The Rays made a pair of minor moves Thursday morning with the re-signing of left-hander Jonny Venters and signing of left-hander Adam Kolarek.

Venters hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 thanks to three Tommy John surgeries. He had another setback this last summer, tearing his UCL for a fourth time.

Both players were signed to minor league deals.


Angel Moreno, Rays:
His two-run double in the eighth inning tied the game and allowed the Rays to finish their last spring game in Port Charlotte without a loss.

Xavier Cedeno, Rays:
Cedeno is quietly having the best springs of any Rays reliever. He tossed another perfect outing. In 10 appearances this spring, he’s allowed just one run, two hits and no walks.

Bottom 8th:
The Rays entered the inning down by five runs and made up the entire deficit. Mallex Smith drew a bases-loaded walk and minor leaguers Joe McCarthy and Angel Moreno each had two-run doubles to add to the scoring.

Willy Adames, Rays:
In his return to a major-league game, the Rays’ No. 1 prospect went 2-for-2 with a triple. That three-bagger scored Tampa Bay’s first run of the game.

“Today’s the best my arm felt – or most lively it’s felt – all spring. So that’s a good thing going into the season. I thought my fastball command was the best it has been. That’s a good cap to spring training, and it’s always good to finish spring on a healthy note, too.”

Rays’s No. 2 starting pitcher Jake Odorozzi

TAMPA BAY (12-16-4) at PHILADELPHIA (14-17-4)

WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Spectrum Field, Clearwater
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Alex Cobb vs. RH Clay Buchholz
RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (start), LH Blake Snell
PHILLIES: RH Clay Buchholz (start), RH Edubray Ramos, RH Hector Neris, RH Jeanmar Gomez

SATURDAY: Off. SUNDAY:  Opening Day vs. New York (AL), 1:10 p.m. MONDAY: Off. TUESDAY: vs. New York, 7:10 p.m. WEDNESDAY: vs. New York, 7:10: p.m.

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