Last Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 9:14 AM EST
It was only the first official workout for Rays pitchers and catchers, but Jake Odorizzi already has a huge win on the season.
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The Rays right-handed pitcher announced he won his arbitration case against the Rays. The salary discrepancy between Odorizzi and the Rays was over $275,000. Winning the case gives him a $4.1M salary in 2017.
"It's nice for pride purposes to get what you fought for," said Odorizzi. The Rays were offering $3.825M. "It's a good way to finish the offseason. That was the last day of my offseason. So it's officially full baseball season now."
Another season where pitching will spearhead their success. After going 68-94 in 2016, third year manager Kevin Cash, wouldn't define his rotation 1-5. He mainly blamed the World Baseball Classic in March. The Rays have four players participating. (Chris Archer, Jose De Leon, Alex Colome, Jose Alvarado)
"It's kind of always evolving," said Cash about his starting five. "To be honest, you kind of have to factor in the WBC this year. There's no doubt that in any of those conversations, Chris Archer's name is going to come up."
The Rays reigning ace, with a league leading 19 loses last year, may not hold that title come April. Cash would not label him his top guy at this point.
"As far as ace goes everyone has there own definition of that, but as far as opening day goes, in my opinion there is no question," said Archer when asked if the role of ace held any significance. "But, if they have to think about it, it's on them."
"When it comes to opening day there's a guy on the mound and I guess gets titled with that," said pitcher Alex Cobb, who is still trying to regain his form after 2015 Tommy John surgery. " But after that, it's five guys that need to feel like they are the ace."
"From my standpoint you're the ace of the staff the day you have the ball," said Odorizzi.
Regardless of the ace, the starting staff agreed they have to collectively pitch better. A 3-19 slide had the team out of the mix before the All-Star Game.
They all preached playing catch-up baseball isn't an option if they want to be competitive come October.
It would be their first playoff appearance since 2013.