FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Burke Badenhop has been working on a different slider this spring in the hopes of having more success against left-handed hitters.
"My slider typically is more 'slurvey,'" Badenhop said. "I was trying to throw a cutter, and it turned out to be a true slider. It's a little firmer, it's a little shorter, it's on the plate longer. It's been pretty decent so far. I'm pretty happy with that."
Badenhop, 28, was acquired from the Marlins in exchange for Minor League catcher Jake Jefferies on Dec. 12. Badenhop went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 50 games for the Marlins in 2011. The Marlins used Badenhop as an all-around reliever. The Rays see him as a pitcher who can use his sinker to get a ground ball when needed. Badenhop allowed just one home run last season, and his 74.2 percent ground-ball percentage ranked sixth highest among National League relievers.
Given those numbers, Badenhop's sinker remains his money pitch.
"I like his breaking ball," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It doesn't give up, it keeps breaking. It has a lot of spin on it. He's able to throw it to both sides of the plate, which I like. I like his sinker."
The Rays will have 12 pitchers on their staff this season, seven of which will be relievers. Looking at the bullpen, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, J.P. Howell, Fernando Rodney and Jake McGee appear to be locks, with the odd man out of the starting rotation to also be added (Maddon said that decision will likely be made Tuesday). That would leave Baddenhop and Brandon Gomes contending for the final bullpen spot.
Gomes, who had minor back surgery in the offseason, has not had his best velocity this spring. But the right-hander made a good accounting for himself last season.
"This guy was a big part of the end of last season, man," Maddon said. "I can't say it enough, how much I, and we, appreciate his makeup."