BY DAN GREENSPAN
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays plan to give veteran reliever Sergio Romo his first career start Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels, though it will be a short one.
Romo, who has appeared in 588 major league games over the course of 11 seasons, will open the game before Rays manager Kevin Cash turns to rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough.
The plan is to let Romo face the heart of an Angels’ lineup heavy on right-handed batters with power before bringing in Yarbrough, who has a 3-2 record and 3.93 ERA. It is intended to keep the likes of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols from getting a third look at Yarbrough later on in the game.
“They could obviously change that now because they know we’re pitching Romo, but I doubt it. There’s a couple guys in that lineup that aren’t going to move no matter who’s pitching,” Cash said prior to Friday’s game. “Get through an inning or two, see where we’re at, then probably hand the ball over to Yarbs. I think it helps him, benefits him.”
The Rays have relied on their relievers to effectively carry them through several games this season because of injuries, but this would take the concept of a “bullpen game” to the next level. However, Cash doesn’t think it is as wild as it might seem at first glance.
“We’ve kicked this idea around for quite some time,” Cash said. “The National League, it becomes a lot easier because you’re valuing that hitter spot, which we do, and it avoids your traditional starter having to come up to the plate more than three times.”
Still, Cash admitted the interest around baseball to the announcement that Romo would start caught him by surprise.
“We’re the Rays, so no we didn’t (expect it),” Cash said.
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