Whitley focused on process, eyeing roster spot

Whitley focused on process, eyeing roster spot

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Chase Whitley doesn't really mind which role the Rays reserve for him in the big leagues this season, whether it's starting or coming out of the bullpen. He just wants to be there.

"Wherever they put me, that's above my pay grade," the right-hander said. "But [I'll play] wherever they want to put me."

Whitley continued to make a strong case during Tampa Bay's 3-2 win over the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Saturday, yielding two hits with four strikeouts and one walk over four scoreless innings of work.

It was a solid bounceback day for the 27-year-old in his first spring start after he gave up three runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief against the Twins on Monday.

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Whitley had a successful stint with the Rays late last season, finishing with a 2.51 ERA in five appearances, and knows rebounding is part of the process -- one he hopes will lead to more than just a cup of coffee in the Majors this time around.

"The process is if you do it the right way, it will take care of itself," he said. "The result can come and go, but if your process is consistent, chances are your result is going to be as consistent as it possibly can be."

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Manager Kevin Cash likes what he has seen out of Whitley, and with the status of reliever Brad Boxberger up in the air for Opening Day because of back soreness, it may be a temporary slot for him to fill. But Cash said a final decision has not been made.

"I think, right now, we're still kind of deciding between both [roles]," Cash said. "I mean, the starter [or] reliever, he's shown the ability to do both. If you ask him, he's comfortable to do both. The way he mixes pitches, it allows him to have success doing both. He's not committed to one pitch. He seems to mix probably as well as anyone we have with the changeup, breaking ball and the fastball."

Wherever he goes, Whitley believes he will be ready.

"I think I've proved over the course of when I'm on the mound, I'll compete in whatever role that is," he said.

Jeff Odom is a contributor for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.