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Wade Davis isn’t thrilled with the possibility of pitching out of the bullpen

Feb 20, 2012, 9:30 PM EST

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The Rays decided against cashing in on their starting pitching depth over the winter and will enter spring training with six realistic candidates for five spots. David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and top prospect Matt Moore are essentially locks for the rotation at this point, which means Wade Davis will compete with Jeff Niemann for the final spot.

Davis, who posted a 4.45 ERA and 105/63 K/BB ratio over 184 innings last season, has never pitched in relief as a pro and told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times earlier today that he has no interest in doing so.

“I’m a starter,” he said. “I don’t see any reason for me to be in the bullpen. I understand they’ve got to do certain things, but we’ll see. … I definitely want to be a starter and stay a starter forever. And that’ll be my mentality.”

Niemann, who had a 4.06 ERA and 105/37 K/BB ratio across 135 1/3 innings, at least appeared to be more open to the possibility.

“Right now, I think we’ll just deal with that when we have to,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to going out there and building up (innings) the way we normally do it and see how things play out. It’s just an unknown, a definite unknown.”

Topkin notes that Davis “wouldn’t have much leverage to force a trade,” so the reality is that he’d have no choice but to accept a bullpen role if Niemann begins the year in the starting rotation.

Davis, 26, signed a four-year, $12.6 million extension with the Rays last season which will pay him $1.5 million this season, $2.8 million in 2013, $4.8 million in 2014 and includes club options for 2015 and 2016. Niemann, who turns 28 later this month, will make $2.75 million this season and remains under team control through 2014. Depth is certainly a nice luxury to have, but it’s unlikely the Rays will keep both pitchers for the long haul.

  1. shawnuel - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhade Davis.

    • bobdira - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:44 AM

      I like the competitive response. Anyone who is willingly accepting of a demotion before the competition begins shouldn’t be competing at all. Go Wade Baby!!! It’ will be a great battle to watch, one of only a couple the Rays have to contend with this Spring Training. (shortstop/2nd catcher)

      • patg1041 - Feb 21, 2012 at 6:44 AM

        Actually, the proper response is “however I can help the team” and then going out and working your ass off to try and keep your starting job. Talk is cheap. All this tells me is that if he does end up in the bullpen, he’s going to pout and be ineffective.

  2. drewzducks - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    Must be a nice problem to have.

    Signed,

    Any Red Sox Fan

    • Marc - Feb 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM

      Any Red Sox fan would also be thrilled to learn that the Rays have three other guys in AAA (Cobb, Colome, and Archer) that blow away anything the Red Sox might consider an emergency starter (we all know how that worked out last year). The Rays are flat-out stacked with starting pitchers.

      • bobdira - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:41 AM

        Torres is the third name mentioned most frequently, but the Rays are stacked for the forseeable future barring injury or imprudent trades.

  3. drewzducks - Feb 21, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    I hear ya. I know they were door mats for a while and they were drafting pretty high but it’s amazing how well so many of their draftees have been homeruns and we all know the baseball draft other than hockey is the biggest crap shoot. They seem to have and endless supply of talent at most positions and even when they don’t i.e. Bullpen they manage to patch together a very effective group. Can lose All Stars like Garza, Crawford, Soriano and not miss a beat. Says a lot about their organization and may even say more about the big market/spenders and the clear flaw in their approach.

    • bobdira - Feb 21, 2012 at 5:49 AM

      Matt Moore was picked in the 6th or 7th round. It’s not just the draft position, They have a great development record as well. Not to mention their ability to make shrewd trades.

      Smart and classy all around.

      • paperlions - Feb 21, 2012 at 7:45 AM

        Yep, a lot of teams draft talent and can never develop it *cough*orioles*cough*; they have drafted well and be great developing that talent. For years, everyone loved Boston’s draft classes (in part because they were spending so much to sign a bunch of talented hart-to-sign guys….but they haven’t exactly realized a lot of production from those drafts….indeed, about all they’ve been useful for is trade chips.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        Trade chits are pretty useful, and many of those players have turned into quality big leaguers or very good prospects with other teams. They’re not going to get Pedroias and Lesters and Ellsburys with every draft, but nobody is. With the exception of the 2009 draft (which still got netted B/C-level prospects Brandon Jacobs and Alex Wilson), every draft Boston has had since their amazing ’05 draft (Ellsbury, Buchholz, Lowrie) has been very very strong.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        Trade chips are pretty useful, and many of those players have turned into quality big leaguers or very good prospects with other teams. The fact that they’re no longer with Boston has nothing to do with how well Boston drafts.

        They’re not going to get Pedroias and Lesters and Ellsburys with every draft, but nobody is. With the exception of the 2009 draft (which still netted them B/C level prospects Brandon Jacobs and Alex Wilson), every draft Boston has had since their amazing ’05 draft (Ellsbury, Buchholz, Lowrie) has been very very strong.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM

        Oops! Sorry for the double post. What I get for using Firefox instead of Chrome…

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