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Rays notes: McGee sticks with fastball

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Published:   |   Updated: May 4, 2013 at 11:14 PM
DENVER -

LHP Jake McGee actually mixed in a few sliders during his outing Friday, but that was more because he said the pitch felt good when he was warming up in the bullpen rather than an effort on his part to be less fastball-oriented.

McGee, who has had his struggles this season, has thrown his fastball 90.3 percent of the time. That has prompted calls from some for McGee to either learn to throw his change-up or use his slider/cutter more.

“I disagree with that 100 percent,” manager Joe Maddon said.

McGee's success in 2012 was due in large part to his ability to pump fastball after fastball past hitters.

“Last year, he pretty much went wall-to-wall with the fastball,” Maddon said.

McGee's problems this season stem from his inability to locate the pitch like he did last season. He's finding the strike zone with 46.9 percent of his pitches this year. Last year, he was in the strike zone 54.4 percent of the time. Also, his velocity has yet to reach the high-90s; he's been consistently in the mid-90s this season.

McGee said he's always lived with his fastball, but admitted a slider or two per outing could help.

“It wouldn't hurt if I get ahead 0-1, it will be in their minds later in the count, 2-2 whatever,” he said. “If I can throw one over the plate it's in their head more rather than seeing just my fastball.”

As for a change-up? McGee said his slider/cutter acts as one.

“Even if he doesn't move much, the 10 mph difference is enough for me sometimes,” McGee said.

Maddon wants McGee to keep doing what he's doing. Using his second pitch more or trying to develop a change-up could be counterproductive.

“I don't want him to get it into his head that he needs to do something different, because he doesn't,” Maddon said. “He has to just be Jake. If he wants to continue to work on that other pitch, I'm fine with that. But his success is always going to be rooted in throwing a good fastball that rides and he throws it where he wants to.”

Cobb looking ahead RHP Alex Cobb met with the media Saturday and spent more time talking about getting his first big-league at-bat this afternoon than his sixth-inning meltdown during his previous start.

The Royals erased a 2-0 lead, scoring four times on nine pitches after Cobb retired the first two batters that inning.

“I don't want to look too much into it. I don't want to get my head going,” Cobb said. “I've been pitching well. My mechanics have been feeling good. Even that inning I felt good. I don't want to make it a bigger issue than it is.”

As for his hitting, Cobb took early batting practice Saturday. He had been looking forward to this trip to Colorado since the rotation was announced during spring training. Originally, Cobb was scheduled to pitch Friday. But after the rainout in Boston on the last road trip, the rotation was juggled. Cobb said he was concerned Thursday that the game with the Royals would be postponed and the rotation would be moved back and he would miss his chance to pitch this series.

“I'm pretty excited,” Cobb said. “I've got to kind of contain myself a little bit and not focus too much on the hitting side of things and remember I've got a game to pitch. I'm pretty excited. I took extra BP.

“I have a lot of swings moving through my head where it's usually pitching mechanics, but I'll make sure to get my mind ready before I step on the mound.”

Noteworthy LHP David Price and RHP R.A. Dickey are scheduled to pitch Thursday during the finale of the Blue Jays-Rays series at the Trop. This will be only the third time reigning Cy Young Award winners will face each other. The others: Frank Viola vs. Orel Hershiser on Aug. 28, 1989; and Tom Glavine vs. Roger Clemens in an interleague game on July 15, 1999.… The Rays were the only AL East team to score a run Friday night. According to Elias, it was only the time four AL East teams were shut out on the same night since the three-division format started. … C Jose Lobaton is batting .467 with two home runs, three RBIs and six runs on this trip.

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