PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- When Jake McGee came to Spring Training, the Rays had not said whether they were looking at him as a starter or a reliever. Now that they have decided to make him a reliever for now, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound left-hander is getting used to the idea of pitching late in the game. He even told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to be the team's closer.
Manager Joe Maddon smiled when told about McGee's statement.
"He said that?" Maddon said. "Good for him. I think that's great. I love it."
Maddon is obviously impressed with McGee, noting he is a serious young man and that "he doesn't give you a whole bunch of different lines."
"He follows instruction well and his work [has] been very good," Maddon said. "I know there was a time when we were concerned about his work ethic, but that has definitely been taken care of."
Maddon complimented McGee for doing "a wonderful job last year," when he went 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA in eight appearances late in the season for the Rays.
"The way he came into that clubhouse, [he] handled himself perfectly," Maddon said. "He was calm when he pitched. He had one bad outing, but after that, he was good. I think he's getting to the point where he's starting to believe he belongs here, and that's really important for us."
Maddon said McGee's fastball "is that good, just even flipping it up there right now." But he would like to see McGee develop a quality breaking ball to offset the fastball.