PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays officially released Erik Bedard on Tuesday so that the left-hander could explore other options.
"However, that does not preclude the potential for him to come back to us at some point," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
On Saturday the Rays announced that right-hander Jake Odorizzi had won the competition to be the fifth starter, which left Cesar Ramos as the team's long man and Bedard facing the prospect of going to Triple-A Durham if he wanted to stay with the organization. Now that he's been released, the veteran can see if other teams are interested in his services.
Maddon did not have any inkling about whether Bedard might return to the Rays.
"I don't, you just have to look at the other teams that need starting pitching right now," Maddon said. "That would be the ones that he's obviously contacting. And if it doesn't work out, he'd have to make his choice.
"I would like to believe if it doesn't work out, based on the relationship we've built, that he'd want to come back to us. We really would like to have him back. But again, when it comes down to a veteran player like that, it's all about him and his family first. So I'm hoping that he gets another job on the Major League level, but if not that he would come back. That would be great."
Maddon added that Bedard "has a lot left."
Bedard allowed 13 earned runs in 17 innings this spring.
Keeping Bedard would help the overall depth of the organization's starting pitching.
"You always can use that depth," Maddon said. "Stuff happens, and it can happen really quickly. You know, we've got [Jeremy Hellickson] on the horizon. Obviously we've got some guys down [at Triple-A Durham]. [Nathan] Karns is a strong candidate, too. The more depth you can build up, the better off you are."
Right-hander Alex Colome's 50-game suspension was brought up in the context of questions regarding the Rays' starting pitching depth.
"Colome not being available right now, he is a guy we were counting on in that particular role, being the sixth, seventh or eighth guy going into this camp," Maddon said. "We just always, I think, appreciated the term 'depth' and what it means."
Maddon said the organization has not talked about the prospect of adding another veteran arm at Durham.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.