It didn’t take long for Chris Archer to make a statement worthy of a clubhouse leader: “I’m willing to put our arms up against anyone (in major league baseball).”
Archer, an All-Star in 2017 while going 10-12 with a 4.07 ERA and 239 strikeouts, knows he is the voice of the pitching staff. And his confidence is spilling over to others taking the mound.
“This team has always prided itself on good pitching and good defense,” said Matt Andriese. “I think we all want to go out and just contribute and give our team the best chance to win each time out.”
“I just think all of us, with our pitches, why not (put us against the rest of MLB),” said Jake Faria. “Everybody is pretty confident going into the year. I think it's going to be a good year."
Some of those arms are not as seasoned as some of the starters in the clubhouse. But competition from the young pitchers can help push the Rays to succeed as a unit.
“My job is to go compete and make other guys work harder and compete,” said Brent Honeywell, a right-hander who is itching to help the Rays in 2018. “I need to go out and just show what I can do and get the best from anyone. Doing that leads to more wins a lot faster for us.”
The depth of the Rays pitching staff could be seen and heard all over the fields of Charlotte Sports Park on Wednesday. And manager Kevin Cash says he has heard a lot about some of the talent he is seeing this week.
“We are really deep. From the guys we have already to some of the young guys we are watching, this is a talented group,” said Cash. “The big thing now is to get through these six weeks healthy and see where we are at. Everyone wants to do well. We just need to make sure no one over does it and then can’t help us.”
Jake Odorizzi arrived at camp on Wednesday morning and told reporters “I got nothing to talk about, no storylines from me.” Half joking, half serious. Odorizzi just returned from Arizona where he had an arbitration hearing to determine his 2018 salary with the club. Odorizzi put in for $6.35 million, while the Rays put in for $6.05 million.
The feeling around camp is a starter is going. That starter is most likely Odorizzi. But even Chris Archer, the new face of the organization, had to endure questions from fans while signing autographs.
“We hope you are here this year and for years to come,” said one fan. Another said, “I hope you are here ten more years.”
Archer replied: “You need to go talk to the front office about that one. They are walking out here somewhere.”
Archer has confidence that moves are coming. He is also confident that if he and Odorizzi and the rest of the staff stay in tact, the Rays are a force on the mound in 2018.