Bulls Rotation Becomes (Slightly) Clearer
Rays manager Joe Maddon named 2013 Bull Jake Odorizzi the Rays’ 5th starter on Saturday, ending the 3-man battle between Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard. Ramos will move to Tampa Bay’s bullpen, while Bedard’s fate remains up in the air.
Bedard, a 10-year Major League veteran, has a March 31 opt-out clause. However, it was reported by Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times yesterday that Bedard will weigh all his options before deciding whether or not to opt-out and seek a job outside the Rays organization. So, what does all this mean for the Bulls? It means you can safely assume Alex Colome, Enny Romero and Nathan Karns will all be in Durham’s starting rotation. Should Bedard opt-out, the final two spots would go to some combination of Matt Andriese, Mike Montgomery and Merrill Kelly. Conversely, if Bedard stays with the organization and reports to Triple-A, there would be a 3-way battle between Andriese, Montgomery and Kelly for the final spot in Durham’s rotation (you can see the domino effect).
Either way, there’s going to be plenty of depth on the Bulls’ pitching staff, both in the rotation and the bullpen. On Thursday, the Rays optioned Brad Boxberger to Durham, while reassigning Adam Liberatore, Steve Geltz and Juan Sandoval to minor league camp (along with position players Justin Christian, Jerry Sands, Cole Figueroa and Ali Solis). Liberatore, Geltz and Sandoval all spent significant time with the Bulls in 2013, while Boxberger, new to the organization this season, appeared in 42 games for San Diego over the past two years.
Meanwhile, with the reassignments of this past week, Maddon believes the Rays minor league system will be deep and talented, especially the Bulls. Of the position players, Durham will return IL All-Star Vince Belnome and late season call-up Kevin Kiermaier, while adding the veteran presence of outfielders Sands and Jeremy Moore, who hit three home runs apiece in Big League camp in 2014.
From what we can tell, the Bulls are going to trot out an impressive roster on Opening Day (April 3 vs. Gwinnett, 6:05 p.m.) which should set them on the right path to defending their Governors’ Cup title and capturing their seventh South Division title in the past eight seasons.