BALTIMORE — The Rays were either being very secretive about announcing the rotation for this weekend's series against the Yankees or they truly were looking at every possible scenario from every possible angle, because they headed into Wednesday's game against the Orioles without naming the three starters.
RHP Chris Archer said he was pitching Friday when the Rays and Yankees begin their three-game series at Tropicana Field. And manager Joe Maddon said RHP Roberto Hernandez, who would be on schedule to start Friday, was available Wednesday out of the bullpen.
When asked what the holdup was, Maddon said, “Just us working through the entire rest of the season, actually.”
Today's off day allows the Rays the chance to skip Hernandez (6-13, 5.00 ERA )and remain in rotation. That scenario will have LHP David Price starting Saturday and RHP Alex Cobb starting Sunday.
But with LHP Matt Moore at least a week away from returning from the disabled list, Hernandez will likely get one more start.
That also means RHP Jeremy Hellickson will pitch Monday afternoon in Kansas City when the Rays and Royals play the makeup of the game snowed out May 2.
The Yankees announced their rotation for the weekend: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, LHP CC Sabathia and RHP Daniel Nova.
Moore getting closer
How ready was Moore (sore left elbow) on Wednesday afternoon to throw his bullpen session?
“It was full uni,” He said. “I even had my jock strap and cup on.”
Moore threw 69 pitches on a steamy afternoon, taking only one break to combat the heat and humidity. He threw his change-up before and after the break and said the elbow was pain free both times.
“This is the best bullpen by far that we've thrown in this process,” Moore said.
Moore will throw a simulated game Saturday. After that? A second simulated game? A minor league rehab start?
Maddon said it will be one of those two choices. When asked if Moore could pop into the rotation based on his work Saturday, Maddon said, “No.”
“We have ideas,” Maddon said, “but we want to go one step at a time.”
Moore's last start was July 28 at Yankee Stadium. That's when he experienced pain in the elbow when throwing his change-up. That's an important pitch, because it not only gives Moore a third option, but he uses it to regain the feel and command of his fastball on those occasions when he can't locate the pitch.
Also, once the soreness returned from throwing his change-up, it remained when he threw his other pitches.
Moore said the difference between Wednesday's bullpen and his first Aug. 11 at Dodger Stadium is that he was no longer worried about his elbow.
“It wasn't, 'How can I make this not hurt?' And I think that that's one way it went different,” he said. “I was not looking for something to pop up. I was just kind of throwing.”
Still, Moore said the bullpen session was a big relief.
“It's like taking a test in the morning and getting the results at the same time,” he said. “So (Wednesday) was a test for us to see where we're at after that many pitches. The original target was around 50, maybe 60. We were feeling so good I kept throwing.”
After Thursday, the Rays' next and final off day of the season is Sept. 9. … SS Yunel Escobar entered Wednesday's game leading all active major league shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage. Detroit's Jhonny Peralta, suspended for the rest of the season, has a .991 fielding percentage. … CF Desmond Jennings leads American League center fielders with a .996 fielding percentage.