St. Petersburg, Florida -- Joe Maddon has been watching everyone closely during spring training, but maybe the men he's had his eyes on the most have been Jake Odorizzi, Erik Bedard, and Cesar Ramos.
Those three players were Maddon's choices for the fifth and final spot in the Rays' starting rotation behind David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Chris Archer.
Odorizzi got the call.
Maddon made the announcement after Saturday's 3-3 tie with the Orioles. The move sends Ramos back to the bullpen, where he excelled last year for Tampa Bay, and sends Bedard packing. The Rays had hoped Bedard would accept a minor league assignment but the veteran lefty opted out of his Rays contract to pursue a spot elsewhere on a major league roster.
Maddon tweeted after the game, "Odorizzi is our 5th starter. Cesar and Frenchy were impressive, but we thought Jake was a better choice for this moment."
Odorizzi compiled a 1-1 record with eight strikeouts in 12 innings of work last September for the Rays during Tampa Bay's playoff run.
"Odorizzi had all this stuff going on from the past -- he had a good September, a great work ethic this past winter, and comes into this camp and starts showing some other things," Maddon said. "Just the whole body of work. We just think that Jake is the right guy for this moment."
The Rays have seven exhibition games remaining before they open the regular season on March 31 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.