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Rays reset starters in preparation for Opening Day

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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Mike Montgomery (31) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Mike Montgomery (31) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that manager Kevin Cash has begun to line up the starting rotation ahead of Opening Day, scheduling the presumed front three starters — Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Nathan Karns — to pitch Saturday against the Red Sox. But first, some meaningless numbers.

Despite yesterday's outcome of the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0-blanking the Tampa Bay Rays, the team ended the week with a 9-8-1 Grapefruit League record after winning five of their last seven — averaging five runs per game over a seven game stretch.

The Rays will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon in Port Charlotte, ahead of their last off-day of the spring on Tuesday.

It appears that manager Kevin Cash began to line up the starting rotation ahead of Opening Day, scheduling the presumed front three starters on the pitching depth chart Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Nathan Karns to pitch on this coming Saturday.

Cash told Bill Chastain how Archer, Odorizzi and Karns sat down with pitching coach Jim Hickey and chose this upcoming Saturday as a day they would all appear in:

Basically, what I think happened was [pitching coach Jim Hickey] sat them all down and talked with them and they all came down with the same day they wanted to pitch. So we're going to find a couple of games, innings for them, stuff like that. But nothing more than that. We're trying to not disrupt that many people's schedule. So we let them have their choice. We'll figure it out as we go.

Saturday is Odorizzi's next scheduled day to pitch, and he will go along side Chris Archer in a minor league game. Meanwhile, Karns will join the Rays against the Red Sox, allowing all three starters to pitch on the same day.

Everything goes into lining up the rotation now, Cash continued. We're all trying to accommodate them as much as possible, because a lot of moving parts and stuff like that. I don't think anything is set in stone. I think we just had this day where it all came together, and they all just selected, 'This is the day we want to pitch.'

The Rays could announce the Opening Day starter as early as this week, while the assumption is that Cash will start the season with a four man rotation, which would work given the two off-days in the month of April.

We'll have a really good sense for the first series, and then after the off-day, there will be some more decisions to be made, whether [the first three starters] come back on normal rest or they get the day. I've got a pretty good feeling we'll bring them back on normal rest without the extra day off, just given where we're at with innings and pitchers and stuff like that.

Archer is scheduled to pitch against the Pirates, which keeps him on a four-day rest trajectory to take the mound on April 7th. If he were to be named Opening Day starter, he would need to pitch on short rest or draw out his starts to line up appropriately.

Karns will make his next appearance in a minor league game Tuesday, putting him on three days rest for Saturday. Saturday is Odorizzi's next scheduled day to pitch. In the mean time, possible starters Matt Andriese, the more likely choice, and question-mark southpaws Mike Montgomery and Everett Teaford will get looks Wednesday-Friday.

Links

- The Rays are rumored to be announcing Asdrubal Cabrera as the starting short stop as soon as today. More on that shortly.

- Steven Souza Jr. and the Rays hosted 16-year old Jonathan Cook alongside the Make-A-Wish foundation to allow the young cancer survivor to be "A Ray for a Day"

- Drew Smyly is back to throwing off the mound and reportedly feeling good.

- Per a tweet from Steve Kinsella, Pablo Sandoval might just be an Achilles heel for the Red Sox:

- And finally, this happened.

Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier posed with ballerinas at the Straz Center for a photo shoot promoting arts education. Face of the franchise?