TAMPA, Fla. -- When it was clear the Rays would develop lefty Jake McGee as a reliever this spring, he said he wanted to close. Manager Joe Maddon doesn't think that would be such a bad idea, even if he's not quite ready to hand the job to the 24-year-old.
"It's a matter of if you feel as though he's ready," Maddon said. "He might be able to. I'm not sure yet. I think he'll be ready to do that at some point in his career, I just don't know exactly when I'm going to be comfortable with that.
"Jake's got a high-end arm. My biggest concern, is he ready emotionally to handle that, and if it does not go well, how's he going to react?"
McGee did come up late last season and pitched well in five relief outings. Primarily a starter throughout his climb up the Minor League ladder, he's still learning the ins and outs of short relief. McGee tossed two scoreless innings against the Yankees in the Rays' 3-2 loss on Thursday night.
With Rafael Soriano now with the Yankees, Maddon feels confident that many members of his bullpen could get the job done when called upon.
"It's just going to be the leverage of the moment, how we get to the ninth inning, who's been used already to make sure that we had a lead going into the ninth inning," Maddon said. "I'm liking the way this is looking right now. I think we're going to have several candidates to get the last out. I don't just want to say, 'You're going to get the last out every night,' but on any given night, I think we have the ability to potentially move that last out or last two outs around, based on left-handed or right-handed hitters."
This isn't a reluctance in using a young pitcher in pressure situations. If anything, Maddon has shown a willingness to go with whomever he feels can get the job done.
"Honestly, I'd have no hesitation pitching anybody," Maddon said. "Jake, eventually, I think can morph himself into that particular role, but I don't want to just thrust that upon him right now.
"Just like David Price got the baseball in the ALCS, I have no problem with Jake McGee."