ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Erik Bedard will take the mound this afternoon for the Tampa Bay Rays looking for his first win of the season but not looking to save his job in the rotation.
Manager Joe Maddon emphasized that before Wednesday's game.
“We're not talking like that, and I hope I've not insinuated that because it's not at that point yet,” Maddon said. “He's not pitching for his job right now. But we want him to look at some of this intel and really try to incorporate it. He did last time. ... He's another guy who really pitched better than their numbers looked or indicated. Stay with him, stay with him, stay with him. Any time you're giving guys like this input — a veteran guy coming over here trying to make an impression — you're giving him info. You're asking him to trust you. That's pretty significant.”
Bedard, who joined the rotation when RHP Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) went on the disabled list, allowed four runs in 32⁄3 innings during his first start of the season.
“You always pitch to win. I don't think of anything else,” Bedard said when asked if he felt he was pitching for his job. “You just want to help the team win, and at the end of the day, that's what you want to do.”
Maddon had been talking up Triple-A Durham RHP Nathan Karns, who was acquired from Washington in the trade for C Jose Lobaton. But Karns has struggled at Durham. He allowed seven earned runs in two innings Tuesday and has an 8.02 ERA for the season.
Bedard was 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 32 games (26 starts) last season with the Astros, but that was for a team that won only 51 games, was last in the majors in fielding and averaged 3.77 runs per game. Maddon said Bedard pitched better than his numbers indicated and should benefit by pitching in front of the Rays' defense.
“If he keeps making these small adjustments and gets his arm strength up and stretches out, I'm anticipating good out of him,” Maddon said. “I just think he needs a little time to build his arm strength, and then again, with a couple nuggets our guys uncovered for him, I kind of like it. I think they're going to help him.”
Spirits day for DeJesus, too
If his three hits Tuesday didn't push the 0-for-24 slump out of David DeJesus' mind, Wednesday morning's visit to All Children's Hospital did.
DeJesus and RHP Brandon Gomes visited the children as part of “Rays Kids Spirits Day.” The father of one young patient called the Rays afterward to let them know that playing catch with DeJesus made his daughter smile for the first time in 10 days.
“It gets our minds off ourselves going to see kids in way tougher situations than I was,” DeJesus said of the visit. “I have a young son, and I couldn't imagine what I would be going through if I was in that situation. That puts things in perspective, and I couldn't have asked for it to happen at a better time.”
DeJesus was not in Wednesday's lineup even though the Rays were facing RHP Mike Pelfrey because Pelfrey can be tough on left-handers, Maddon said.
“And at the same time, because David had such a good day (Tuesday), which might sound crazy, I didn't want him to have to face this kind of a pitcher and mess up all the good vibes that he created (Tuesday).”
Right a wrong?
Maddon was still baffled by Yunel Escobar's fifth-inning at-bat Tuesday when he struck out even though replays clearly showed he was batting with four balls.
“I'd like to see that taken off of Escobar's record as a strikeout and have it reinstated as a walk,” Maddon said. “It has no impact on the game whatsoever. The fact that there's visual proof, why wouldn't you do that? I don't think the pitcher would be impacted at all, other than he gets the walk that he deserves and Escobar gets the walk he deserves.”
The Rays have doubled in all 21 games this season and 36 straight dating to last year. ... Since returning from the DL on July 2, LHP David Price has thrown five complete games. No one else has thrown more than three. No other team has five complete games during that span. Also, Price is the first pitcher in team history with 40 strikeouts in his first five starts. ... Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, and Bollywood film star Shahid Kapoor threw out ceremonial first pitches before Wednesday's game.