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Cash: Rays to start season with 4-man rotation

Due to early off-days, TB to send Andriese to the bullpen for first 6 weeks
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash told reporters on Sunday that the team will go with a four-man rotation at the start of the season.

The Rays manager noted that most of that decision was based on the team's early-season schedule, which is full of off-days.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash told reporters on Sunday that the team will go with a four-man rotation at the start of the season.

The Rays manager noted that most of that decision was based on the team's early-season schedule, which is full of off-days.

"If we ran a five-man rotation, we're talking an extra day, and two extra days, basically almost every time through [the rotation]," Cash said. "I think any starting pitcher would tell you it's not ideal for them, and we're just going to kind of shorten that up and insert a starter, or a spot-starter, or a bullpen day on those days."

Now that Jake Odorizzi has been traded, the Rays' five-man rotation would have included Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, Nathan Eovaldi, and Matt Andriese. Under the four-man rotation scenario, Andriese will begin the season in the bullpen.

"We talked to Matt today and Matt was great," Cash said. "Obviously, I'm sure there was some disappointment. He came in built up. In his mind, he was going to be a starter. But I think once we get past the hoopla of all this, Matt's [pitched out of the bullpen in the past].

"And if you look at Matt's track record, we're trying to set him for six weeks of building something that we know we're going to lean on him for rather than pulling the chain at the last second and saying, 'Alright, now you're going to do this.' Let him get prepped up, see how his arm responds to some shorter workloads and how he bounces back."

Cash said Andriese's role in the bullpen will be as a "very heavily-used multi-inning guy."

Cash said the four-man rotation should be in effect for approximately six weeks, which means the Rays would go to a five-man rotation around May 19 or 20.

Video: TB@OAK: Andriese freezes Sanchez to end the 3rd

Veteran leadership 
When the Rays acquired Denard Span from the Giants in the Evan Longoria trade, not only did they add veteran talent, they also got veteran leadership.

"I've got a couple of guys asking me how many years I've got in the big leagues, and I think I've got more time in the Big Leagues than a lot of guys have been playing professionally," Span said. "It's just crazy. It seems like overnight, I was the 23-year-old trying to establish myself. The roles are now reversed, but I take that as a blessing. I've been blessed to have as long a career as I've had. That just speaks volumes to the many blessings I've had."

Span was asked who helped show him the ropes when he was a young player just getting into the Major Leagues.

"Torii Hunter when I was in Minnesota," Span said. "Michael Cuddyer. Justin Morneau. Those guys were really the ones who taught me how to be a professional. Taught me how to strap it on every day and be ready to play the game. Just honestly, to learn how to be a grinder. It's a crazy up-and-down season, but just being able to weather the storm more mentally than physically."

Span said he'd like to pass along what was passed along to him, particularly how to keep an "even head."

Video: Span on his health, 2018 outlook

"You're going to have a lot of ups and downs," Span said. "There's going to be some 0-for-20s, some 0-for-30s, some bad weeks when you can't buy a win, things aren't going your way. Just trusting the process.

"Come in every day with the mentality that today is the day when things can be turned around. That's been the story of my career. More ups than downs, but I think I've been able to weather the storm."

Quote of the day
"I totally understand what we're doing. But saying that, I still feel we will be very competitive." -- Cash, in the aftermath of Saturday's moves in which the Rays traded Odorizzi to the Twins, brought first baseman C.J. Cron to the Rays, and designated Corey Dickerson for assignment

Up next
The Rays will hold their first full-squad workout on Monday at 10:45 a.m. ET on the back fields of the Charlotte Sports Complex. All workouts are open to the public.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays