Rotation hopeful Odorizzi to make first start Monday

Rotation hopeful Odorizzi to make first start Monday

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi is scheduled to start for the Rays against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday.

The 23-year-old right-hander is one of several candidates trying to nail down the fifth spot in the Rays' rotation while Jeremy Hellickson rehabs following right-elbow surgery. For Odorizzi, the start would be his first of the spring.

Because Odorizzi has pitched in relief, he has not been able to operate like a starter by establishing a pregame routine.

"I did talk to [pitching coach Jim] Hickey about making sure those guys [candidates for the fifth spot were] rotated," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Because just from the outside looking in, I don't want them to think somebody has an advantage based on slotting or pole positioning."

Odorizzi has made two appearances and pitched two scoreless innings, which prompted Maddon to note that he has "looked pretty good" despite not starting a game.

"As we say, he's been Cobb," said Maddon, referencing the changeup Alex Cobb is teaching Odorizzi this spring. "That's where that split, changeup, freakazoid pitch is coming from. And it looks pretty good -- 'The Thing.'"

Odorizzi allowed that there has been a lot of "tinkering" in his career while finding the changeup that suited him.

"Some grips work for some guys and don't for others," Odorizzi said. "I found a grip last year that I liked, but it wasn't an outstanding changeup by any means. I kind of asked [Cobb] if he would show me his grip a week and a half ago, and I've been able to pick it up easy."

Odorizzi noted that Cobb has been giving him feedback on the progress of his pitch.

"I play catch with him about every day," Odorizzi said. "So it's nice to get that feedback. I'm just trying to pick up as much as a can so I can get it game ready."

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