Oviedo makes spring debut, still doubtful for opener

Oviedo makes spring debut, still doubtful for opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo made his spring debut Sunday against the Red Sox, allowing one run on three hits and a walk over one inning. Rays manager Joe Maddon said before the game he still does not expect the right-hander to be ready by Opening Day.

It was the first appearance in a Rays uniform for Oviedo, who signed with Tampa Bay while recovering from Tommy John surgery prior to last season. After missing the entire 2013 season due to his Sept. 6, 2012, surgery, he got a late start with the team this year after visa issues in the Dominican Republic delayed his arrival to Rays camp.

"It's not like because he is [pitching], we're changing our minds," Maddon said, regarding Oviedo's availability to start the season. "Again, there's the threat of hurting him right now, if we try to do too much, too soon. Combined with the fact that he's not pitched a whole lot over the last year or so, we've just got to get him out there."

Maddon had previously expressed the idea that Oviedo would pitch exclusively in Minor League games once he was ready this spring, so the Rays could then backdate his disabled list stint, assuming he indeed is not ready by Opening Day. Instead, the Rays skipper decided he wanted to see Oviedo -- formerly known as Leo Nunez -- work against big league hitters.

"Of course you'd like to see that," said Maddon, who watched Oviedo throw a simulated game Thursday. "And I'd like to just see his stuff -- what the numbers look like, how hard he's throwing, the break on his split. Standing behind the cage the other day is one thing, but to actually see it in a game is something else. And sometimes it looks even better."

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.