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Odorizzi welcomes competition for rotation spot

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi made his Major League debut in September for the Royals, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts.

The right-hander felt good about his chances of making the Royals' rotation this season before coming to the Rays in the James Shields trade. Now the competition looks a little tougher for the 22-year-old as the rotation will contain a combination of David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann, Chris Archer, Mike Montgomery (who also came over in the Shields trade) and Odorizzi.

"I think it's going to be good," said Odorizzi of his plight. "Competition always makes you better. I think I was so close last year to breaking in with the team, [that] this year, I think it's going to give me an advantage that I kind of know what it takes now.

"I kind of had the mindset to make a roster starting in the offseason. And I think it just carried over once I got traded. That's my goal here too, and if it doesn't happen, I want to be ready whenever the time comes."

The Rays have been fortunate with the health of their rotation, but that can quickly change. And as any player knows, a Major League roster is fluid over the course of a 162-game season.

"You're always going to need guys, people get injured," Odorizzi said. "I hope nobody ever gets injured. But that's the kind of thing that happens. I've had it happen to me before. It's just part of the game, really.

"I can't remember exactly the stat they told us last year in Kansas City. There's only 10 times a starting rotation has made it 162 games and nobody's gotten hurt. So whenever that time comes, you have to be ready."