Niemann takes open mind to bullpen role

Niemann takes open mind to bullpen role

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeff Niemann, who competed in Spring Training for the No. 5 spot in the Rays' rotation and lost out to Roberto Hernandez, will begin the season in Tampa Bay's bullpen.

The 6-foot-9 right-hander said he doesn't know exactly how he'll be used just yet.

"I don't think that's really come up in conversation," Niemann said. "But we're going down there and treating it like anything else. I've been down there before, so it's not going to be a complete surprise. We're just going down there, getting ourselves ready to pitch every day.

"Looking at the personnel, I would think I'm the long guy, so let's hope I'm not in there for a while."

Many starters relegated to the bullpen have to learn how to get loose in a hurry, as opposed to having the luxury of a prolonged warmup afforded to starting pitchers. Niemann didn't seem too worried about getting acclimated to the bullpen.

"I think they're going to give me adequate time to warm up," Niemann said. "It's just going to be one of those things -- trial and error at first. We'll just see exactly where we need to be and how far we need to go. 'At what point during the day to we need to get warmed up?' and all that kind of stuff.

"So right now, we're just kind of taking it as it comes and getting ready to pitch like it was our day to pitch anyway. That's the best we can do right now, and we'll try and figure it out as we go along."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.