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Davis to bullpen, Niemann and Moore officially in rotation

Posted Mar 27, 2012 by Roger Mooney

Updated Mar 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Wade Davis is heading to the bullpen as the Rays finalized the rotation this morning.

James Shields was named the Opening Day starter earlier in camp but manager Joe Maddon said he has not settled on the order David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Jeff Niemann, who was competing with Davis for the final spot.

“It was not based on any kind of spring training performance,” Maddon said. “The point I want to make is this isn’t you’re typical other guy in the rotation kind of a battle, because we have such faith in both of these guys. Most organization may go into this moment searching and somebody has to earn other spot in the rotation, but with these two guys, coming down to the last two, it’s unusual to have that kind of quality in the decision-making, so that made it even more difficult. We just like the idea of Jeff in the rotation and Wade in the bullpen. The fact that Wade can come out of the bullpen and possibly throw some high velocity numbers and make an impact there.”

Davis took the news well.

“It’s not a demotion,” he said. “We’re still all going for the same thing, to get to the World Series as a team. Individualizing yourself and taking it personally would be stupid and selfish.”

Davis also said he still considers himself a starter.

“It still got tons to prove and tons to give back,” he said.

Maddon said Davis will be used earlier in games at the beginning of the season, but added that role could change.

“But just as J.P. Howell did a couple of years ago, where we stuck him in the bullpen in ’08 and all of a sudden he had these three-inning stints and morphed into this pretty good relief pitcher,” Maddon said. “I wanted Wade to be aware of that also, that the role can get meatier as it moves along, but at the end of the day we still consider him a starter. It’s just a tough situation and a good decision that we have at the same time with having these two guys being as good as they are. Believe me it’s one of the more difficult things I had to do since I’ve been here, making this call.”

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