ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Torres was sitting around watching TV around midnight Wednesday. He and his Triple-A Durham roommate, Alex Colome, had seen on Twitter that the Rays were going to need another pitcher in the wake of David Price's injury, and they knew it very well could be one of them.
The Rays opted to call up Torres on Thursday afternoon, giving them another arm in the bullpen this weekend and possibly a starter for Monday's game. The lefty was 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA in seven starts for Durham, but perhaps more impressively, he racked up 49 strikeouts to only 14 walks in 37 2/3 innings.
"I'm just focusing on the strike zone, trying to throw the ball around the knees of the catcher, get a ground ball or double play when I need it," Torres said.
Torres gave some credit for his improvement in that area to manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Jim Hickey and the rest of the Rays' coaching staff. He said they drove home the point during Spring Training that he simply had to start throwing the ball around the plate for his Major League-ready stuff to make an impact.
"We've been really pounding on him and talking to him a lot," Maddon said. "This guy's got great stuff. He's got strikeout stuff. He's got strikeout stuff within the strike zone. He's also got the chase kind of stuff and the ability to pitch in this division against these kinds of hitters. We know that.
"You've got to keep talking, man. Redundancy and coaching are probably one in the same thing. Eventually, the message hits home. Hopefully it's hit, because this guy has got great stuff. He's got good makeup. He's a tough guy. It's just a matter of him throwing strikes when he wants to."
Torres also benefited from pitching in winter ball in Venezuela over the offseason. He said that experience provided him with much more confidence in his pitches, and Maddon noted that it probably didn't hurt that he had more chances to get a feel for his delivery and repeat it.
"All the credit goes to him," Maddon said. "This kid really wanted it, and he's gone out and he's done a great job and he's on the verge of becoming a Major League pitcher."
Torres was available out of the bullpen Thursday night against the Red Sox, though he hadn't been told whether he'll also be used as a starter come Monday.
"I'm just here to help the team win the games. I don't care [what's] going to be my role, if it's as a starter or as a reliever," he said. "When Maddon gives me an opportunity to pitch, I'm just going to make outs. That's all I'm looking for."
Rays mulling over who will fill Price's rotation spot
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays know David Price won't be making his scheduled start Monday in Toronto, but they're not quite sure who's going to be filling in for their injured Cy Young Award winner.
Manager Joe Maddon said Thursday that Tampa Bay's front office is deciding who to call up for that spot in the rotation. The finalists, Maddon said, are Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, Alex Torres and Alex Colome. Odorizzi would seemingly make the most sense out of that group, as he's pitching on the same schedule as Price, has some Major League experience and hasn't been held back by pitch limits like Archer has recently.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet," Maddon said. "We're talking about different things."
Odorizzi is 4-0 with a 3.83 ERA in 44 2/3 innings over eight starts for Triple-A Durham. Archer, who threw 73 pitches in five innings Thursday, is 4-2 with a 4.38 ERA. Torres, called up Thursday to provide additional bullpen depth, went 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA in seven starts, while Colome is 2-5 with a 2.84 ERA. They're all on the Rays' 40-man roster, so Tampa Bay wouldn't have to do any additional roster maneuvering to call them up.
"There's all kinds of different options that we have. There's a lot of good stuff going on down there," Maddon said. "We have to grow our own, man. We have to be that group. We have to fertilize it, grow it, tend to it, weed it and all that kind of stuff and make sure we have it, and it's hard to go buy that kind of stuff."
The Rays have always taken pride in their Major League-ready pitching depth, which has kept them well-equipped to deal with offseason losses like James Shields or in-season injuries like Price's strained left triceps.
"David is obviously a Cy Young winner. There is really nobody who can walk in and fill his shoes," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "On the flip side, we do have a lot of talent down there. Whoever it may be who fills in for the two or three starts, whatever it ends up being, I'm sure will be more than capable."
Players to wear camouflage for trip to Baltimore
ST. PETERSBURG -- Following Thursday night's game against the Red Sox, the Rays will leave for a six-game road trip to Baltimore and Toronto. The trip will be the team's second themed road trip of the season.
This time around, Rays players will wear camouflage.
"We have so much of that in our clubhouse," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They're all into this stuff. We have so many hunters. Plus, camo's in right now. Camo actually is in in a fashion sense. It's coming from all different directions. The only part that's uncool in a sense is it's a night trip, so nobody gets to see it. But then again, if you're wearing camo, they wouldn't see anyway."
The club wore letterman jackets from Texas to Boston on the first road trip this year. This is the 25th themed road trip instituted by Maddon since he started the tradition in 2008.