The Rays Tank: Fifth spot candidates show their stuff

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Odorizzi tests out "The Thing," Molina and Hanigan are expected to share similar time behind the plate, and the Zobrists are publishing a book.

- Jake Odorizzi made his first start of Spring Training yesterday, debuting his newest split-finger which Alex Cobb has lovingly nicknamed "The Thing." The pitch "acts like a changeup with late downward break," but didn't help him out Monday, as he threw 49 pitches and left with one out in the third inning against the Red Sox.

Despite the outing, Odorizzi was happy to test and work on the pitch:

"It was my fault, really," said Odorizzi. "I just kept throwing it, throwing it. I got behind just about everybody because I didn't have a good feel for it. Instead of abandoning and going to something I know -- like my slider -- that I can throw for a strike, I'm going to keep throwing it right now. That's my main emphasis. I'm not going to be too fine with it or [think], 'Well, I can't throw a strike with it at first. I'm going to put it in my pocket and not work on it.' Now is the time I need to work on it."

Erik Bedard, who is also vying for the fifth rotation spot, didn't fare much better in his three innings of work, throwing 60 piches, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. It was a big day for that final spot, as Cesar Ramos also pitched in a minor-leage intrasquad game, working four-and-a-third so he could see more innings of work. Nathan Karns didn't make an appearance yesterday, but will make a start tomorrow against the Blue Jays.

- Joe Maddon believes that Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan will see almost evenly split playing time this season, much due to both obtaining stellar defensive skills.

"The thing is, they're both so good defensively. It's not like you have to worry that one catcher is not able to handle a certain pitcher. They all can handle each guy out there. That may present itself differently in regards to just being focused more on offense, and then to not play either of them too many days in a row. It could be 51 percent; It could be more than that, but we're just going to let that play and not try to get too smart about it. More than likely, you'll see Hanigan more than J-Mo, but I'm not sure yet."

- Ben and Juliana Zobrist announced that they have an upcoming autobiography, in which Ben reveals that he almost quit baseball in 2007 due to severe depression and anxiety. The book, available on April 1st, also details their courtship and the managing of their relationship in the baseball world.

Zobrist is expected to sit out a few more days with a stiff neck that began last Saturday. As of now, along with his back tightness in the beginning of Spring Training, he's only played in two games thus far.

Links:

- Must read piece over at The Hardball Times breaking down the different metrics scales, and the pluses and minuses of each. Extremely beneficial, and insightful into why certain ones are preferred, and better utilized, than others.

- Beyond the Box Score noted six pitchers who most likely won't make their starting rotations, but whose additions to the bullpen could greatly help their teams, leading off with Jeremy Hellickson.

- The Rays aren't alone in their quest to improve their baserunning this year, as the Mets are giving special attention to their aggressiveness on the basepaths, something that helped them out last year when their other offensive efforts lacked.

- Giancarlo Stanton absolutely destroyed a baseball:

- Hopefully Raymond isn't involved, but a strange situation unfolded on Twitter yesterday with Mr. Met's return to his account. Apparently Mrs. Met is uhhhh, a mascot favorite...

- A ball at a Spring Training game > your child rolling down a hill into a fence:

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