Rotation gets a collective breather

Rotation gets a collective breather

ST. PETERSBURG -- Up until Monday night, the Rays had been the only team in baseball to use just five starters this season. Jeremy Hellickson's first Major League start interrupted that streak.

Asked to explain his rotation's resiliency, Maddon began his remarks with: "Knock on wood.

"First of all, I think they all have good deliveries, and I think the fact we monitor what they do and how they do things helps. I think our training staff is among the best there is. And furthermore, these guys are really motivated personally, and I think they take good care of themselves. There's a lot involved."

The Rays made the move to start Hellickson in order to push their rotation back a day, which gave each pitcher an extra day of rest during a tough stretch.

"Yeah, I mean it's nice, there's no doubt," said James Shields when asked about the move. "You can always use some extra rest. Obviously, all of us are competitive. We don't think we need the rest right now. We're all feeling pretty good right now.

"It's definitely nice to have the rest, and I think Hellickson is going to be able to get the job done tonight to give [Jeff] Niemann and the rest of the staff an extra day."

Matt Garza said he didn't disagree with the move.

"It's just something that threw a loop to us," Garza said. "We'll adjust. And I think they're looking out for the long haul, which is outstanding. These 20 games and then a day off, another 20 games and then one day off, so it will pay off in the end. So I think it's a good idea."