Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Davis 5th starter, Sonny to bullpen
Posted Mar 24, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated Mar 24, 2010 at 01:43 PM
PORT CHARLOTTE Manager Joe Maddon named Wade Davis his fifth starter this morning and will send Andy Sonnanstine to the bullpen.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Sonnanstine said. “I worked pretty hard to reach a goal that I set pretty early in the offseason. But I feel like I’m a team guy, and I’m going to do everything I can to help us win. That’s been my motto for a while. It’s a tough one to swallow, but like I said, I’m a team guy and I’m going to do everything I can to get those Ws on the ball.”
Maddon said he knew he would make this move as soon as he learned LHP J.P. Howell will miss at least the first month of the season with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.
“I wanted Sonny to know that a lot of his is linked to the situation with J.P.,” Maddon said. “That based on his overall experience as a pitcher, not necessarily as a relief pitcher, he hasn’t pitched that much in the bullpen, I felt more comfortable putting him out there. But I also believe it’s a very vital role that I thought he can handle.”
Maddon said Sonnanstine’s ability to face both lefties and righties makes this a good move. While Sonnanstine will fill the role of the long man at the start of the season, he could be used in more high-leverage situations in the later innings as the Rays go deeper in the season.
“He’s a strike thrower, he’s resilient,” Maddon said. “Talking to (pitching coach Jim Hickey), the day that he pitches he’s normally pretty good the next day already. He normally doesn’t carry soreness with him a lot. I like the idea being right-handed he does get lefties out well. The fact to me he looks like he’s recapturing his form even against right-handers. There’s an appealing part of that with him. He’s good at the running game, he’s a good defender. He does all those things well.”
Maddon also did not rule out Sonnanstine’s return to the rotation.
“This could be temporary or it could be on a more permanent basis, at least through this year, I’m not sure,” Maddons aid. “But for now, with all the extenuating circumstances, we felt this was the best way to go.”
Sonnanstine, who pitched four times in relief last season, called the bullpen “a little bit of a different animal for me.” He now has to learn to pitch with a smaller margin of error and be ready to pitch several times a week.
“Those are things I’m going to have to figure out,” he said. “I feel like I’ve started most of my life. I feel more confident as a starter. I feel like I’m a better pitcher as a starter, but, you know, this is something being a team guy I really want to dive into and start learning if I can go back-to-back days and testing my arms as far as throwing pitches on one day and see how it’s feeling the next day. Like I said, coming in, working out hard this offseason has really helped me out as far as recovery time with my arm, so hopefully that will give me a little better of an edge than I had in the past.”