Rays starters hoping to avoid six-man rotation

Rays starters hoping to avoid six-man rotation

Rays starters hoping to avoid six-man rotation
ANAHEIM -- The Rays went through a period last season when they employed a six-man rotation, much to the chagrin of the members of the five-man rotation.

"They hated it, they absolutely hated it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

That group, headed by the rotation's top two starters, David Price and James Shields, is happy that no such tactic has been employed this season.

"Yeah, I'm glad we haven't gone to a six-man rotation this year," Shields said. "It didn't really work out for us too well while we were in the six-man rotation, but at the end of the year, we were still feeling fresh."

Price added: "I mean, I guess there definitely is a time and a place for it. I felt like we've been pretty effective. I think I'm on pace to have 32 starts this year, and I think I had 34 last year, so if we went to a six-man rotation, I might only have 30. We all want to get out there every five days as much as possible, and being on a five-man rotation allows us to do that."

Price said the time in between starts felt like forever when they were in a six-man rotation.

"Sometimes we'd have two off-days in between starts," Price said. "That turns it into an eight-man rotation. You don't even throw for a week. That's definitely stuff they try to stay away from, even if it's the All-Star break. They don't want you to sit out too long.

"Being a starting pitcher, I feel, is all about routine. And your body definitely knows when it's the fifth day and the sixth day. We enjoy pitching on the fifth day. Throw every five days. That's what we've built our bodies up to do, and our bodies definitely know when it's that time."

Jeff Niemann [right fibula fracture] was scheduled to make the first of his final two rehab starts on Sunday before returning to the team. What will the Rays do when he returns? Could they employ a six-man rotation?

"With Niemann coming back, we can get creative if we want to," Maddon said. "We haven't decided anything."