ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jake Odorizzi is focused on Thursday’s start. That’s it. There’s little else.
His most recent promotion to the Tampa Bay Rays could last longer. Or he could receive word that he will be sent back to Triple-A Durham soon after. Whatever the case, the right-hander wants to maximize his chance to impress in another major-league start.
Odorizzi, 23, will be recalled from Durham on Thursday to start the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field. He is 0-0 with a 6.00 ERA in four starts with the Rays this season, the last a 5 2/3-inning effort in a no-decision against the Boston Red Sox on June 18 at Fenway Park.
The move comes after right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was optioned to Class A Charlotte for rest Tuesday. (Reliever Jeff Beliveau was recalled from Durham on Tuesday, and a corresponding move after Odorizzi’s addition will be made at a later time.)
Odorizzi, who’s 9-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 starts with Durham this season, spent a few moments addressing the media Wednesday at Tropicana Field. Here are some highlights.
Is it exciting to pitch at a time when the games mean a lot?
“I’m willing and excited to do whatever I can do up here to help out any way possible. It all starts tomorrow. It is what it is after that, but tomorrow is all I’m focused on. Let’s see if we can go out there and try to get to the best of my abilities and keep the team in the game, and hopefully, we can get something going.”
For success at this level, is it a matter of respecting the hitters but also trusting your stuff?
“You trust your stuff. Don’t change anything. The way things have been going lately … that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to go out and repeat everything I’ve been doing in Durham these last couple games. That’s the last thing I want to do — try something different from what I did down there.”
What do you like from what has been working recently?
“Just command of everything, really.”
Does this time up with the Rays feel different?
“It’s just got a different feel to it, where it’s getting close to the end of the year. The race is going on. Obviously, we’ve all been watching it down there (in Durham). … It’s always close. So you know if you’re up here, you’ve got to produce and try to keep the team in it. That’s just what my thought process is right now. Just keep it going and do the best that I can and hopefully it all works out for the best.”
How important was that last start in Boston? (He allowed one run and five hits in a Tampa Bay loss.)
“That was good. … It’s just confidence, really. Pitching in that environment, against that line-up, going back to Triple-A in a smaller stadium against not a Red Sox line-up is a lot different. But it’s kind of my thought process, ‘If I can do it there (Durham), then what’s stopping me from doing it here?’ “