PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Another home means a new chance for Erik Bedard to make a quality impression.
The Tampa Bay Rays signed Bedard, a left-hander, to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite on Feb. 14, adding to his winding travels of late.
Since the 2011 season, the 10-year veteran has played for the Boston Red Sox (eight appearances), Seattle Mariners (16), Pittsburgh Pirates (24) and Houston Astros (32). The Rays are his sixth team since entering the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles in 2002.
Bedard, 35, could serve a number of roles with Tampa Bay. He’ll compete for the fifth starter spot — right-hander Jake Odorizzi figures to be his strongest competition — but he could offer bullpen depth if the Rays go in a different direction with their rotation.
Occasionally, FOX Sports Florida will catch up with new faces in the Rays clubhouse during spring training. Here’s a closer look at Bedard:
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: You signed late here, so how has the transition gone? Did being late affect how you smoothed into the environment?
BEDARD: I signed late, but I was here for the first workout. It has been smooth. I know a couple people, but I have been gradually getting to know everybody. It has been pretty fun, a nice camp, relaxed. We’re doing what we have to do.
FSF: Many new Rays players who arrive comment on how loose the clubhouse can be. Has it lived up to your expectations in that way?
BEDARD: Yeah, I think so. Everybody is loose and having fun, but at the same time doing all the work we have to do. That’s the main thing — do the work and have fun at the same time.
FSF: How does this compare to recent springs at your various stops?
BEDARD: Last year I was in the same spot. I was trying to make the rotation. There’s no difference. Throw, try to do well, and see what happens at the end of spring.
FSF: How real is the pressure to show what you can do early in your time with the Rays?
BEDARD: It’s always in the back of your mind. It’s not like you’re going out there trying to shut everybody out. Every day, you’re just trying to show that you can get people out. I know that I can get people out. I’m just trying to limit the damage and do the best I can.
FSF: You pitched against the Orioles in your spring debut here. Do you ever think back to playing for Baltimore when you got your start in the major leagues?
BEDARD: It’s seven years off (since leaving for the Mariners). If it was like the first year after, the second year after, OK, because you know people, you know the guys. But now I don’t. Nobody. Not even the coaching staff. Every team turns around every year. It’s never the same. Nobody keeps the same guys anymore. They’ll switch, trade, get released. Back in the day, everybody stayed.
FSF: Is it hard for you to keep track of old teammates from your various stops?
BEDARD: You’ve got to Google. ‘Oh, where’s this guy? Oh, he’s here.’ You don’t know.