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Romo to start as Rays have plan in the works

Veteran reliever hasn't started a Major League game in 11-year career
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough is expected to pitch on Saturday -- just not as the starter. Instead, manager Kevin Cash will tinker with conventional wisdom, giving reliever Sergio Romo the starting nod.

Cash's expectations for Romo in his first start after 588 games out of the bullpen?

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ANAHEIM -- Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough is expected to pitch on Saturday -- just not as the starter. Instead, manager Kevin Cash will tinker with conventional wisdom, giving reliever Sergio Romo the starting nod.

Cash's expectations for Romo in his first start after 588 games out of the bullpen?

View Full Game Coverage

"That he goes nine innings and we get a complete game shutout,'' Cash said with a smile.

But in Cash's eyes, this isn't a goofy idea. If Yarbrough's appearance can be delayed and he only has to navigate the Angels' stacked lineup two times, that's a plus.

"The thought process is fairly obvious,'' Cash said. "They are a heavy stacked right-handed lineup. Now, they can obviously change that, but a couple of their guys aren't going to move no matter who's pitching. So, if Romo can get through an inning or two, we'll see where we are at and probably give the ball to Yarbrough.''

Cash said the Rays value data that shows hitters facing pitchers for the third time in a game are at an advantage. By limiting Yarbrough's exposure to the middle and later innings, he might not see the Angels on that third go-around.

"Three years ago, that was the biggest secret in the world,'' Cash said. "But we've been kicking it around and we definitely believe in it.''

With Saturday's experiment being just that, Cash isn't sure who'll start opposite righty Shohei Ohtani in Sunday's series finale.

"There are a lot of different scenarios that can play out,'' Cash said.

Infield hamstrung

Matt Duffy (hamstring) ran and took batting practice before Friday's game. He could start on Saturday at either third base or designated hitter after leaving Tuesday's game early.

"I feel good,'' said Dufffy, who's already had one DL stint because of his hamstring. "Hopefully they have confidence in me without worrying about me getting hurt.''

The news wasn't as encouraging for shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria after he exited Thursday's game with a strained right hamstring.

"He came in not feeling that great,'' Cash said. "We want to give it one more day and see if he can recover quicker.''

The Rays are off on Monday, which might aid Hechavarria's bid to avoid the DL.

In other injury news for a pair of right-handers, Yonny Chirinos (forearm) is scheduled to throw batting practice on Monday and Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) allowed a run and two hits over three innings for Class A Advanced Charlotte on Friday.

Arroyo relishing first Rays hit

Infielder Christian Arroyo got his first knock with the Rays on Thursday night. And if the TV numbers for the game were up despite the West Coast starting time, Arroyo could be why.

"I know my mom and a bunch of friends stayed up to watch,'' he said. "So if people want to know why the ratings were up from Hernando County, that's why. But for the most part, it's kind of tough because they are usually sleeping.''

Video: TB@LAA: Arroyo singles for his first hit with Rays

It was a dream for Arroyo, the Tampa, Fla., native and former Hernando High School star, as he singled in the fifth and eighth innings of the Rays' win over the Angels. Arroyo got his first big league hit with the Giants last year. But he's keen on where the ball from his first hit as a Ray is going.

"I'm giving that one to my mom, Kim,'' said Arroyo, a dedicated Rays fans when growing up. "She should get it for taking me to all those Rays games. I think it is fitting."

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Sergio Romo