NEW YORK -- Jeff Niemann was originally scheduled to start Thursday night against the Yankees, but the Rays elected to have Matt Moore make a spot start on Thursday and have Niemann pitch Saturday at Tropicana Field.
Had they not moved Moore into Thursday night's slot, the rookie left-hander would have started Saturday night. The Rays needed an extra starter due to the fact they used two starters in Thursday's doubleheader.
The main reason for flip-flopping Moore and Niemann was due to Niemann experiencing some upper back stiffness.
"We needed a pitcher for today and Saturday," Niemann said Thursday. "And this is the way it worked out. This is not a drastic change for anything, and it will give me two extra days. It's just something that kind of crept up. It's just part of the deal, you know."
Niemann said the soreness was isolated to his upper back and did not affect his shoulder, arm or lower back (he missed time earlier this season due to a lower back problem).
"It's just upper back," Niemann said. "Just didn't quite feel right after [Saturday's] game [against the Red Sox]. Didn't recover as well as I have in the past. ... It's not anything. It's one of those things where Matt was going to pitch today or Saturday. It was one of those things it was easy to slide him in here."
When asked if there was any chance he might not start Saturday, Niemann replied: "No, I'm going out there, period. That's going to happen."