PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The competition for the fifth spot in the Rays' rotation got whittled down to two on Tuesday.
Right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, who entered camp as legitimate contenders for the No. 5 spot, were optioned to Triple-A Durham; they were joined by left-hander Alex Torres.
That leaves right-handers Jeff Niemann and Roberto Hernandez as the finalists for the spot.
Archer, the Rays' No. 4 prospect, pitched particularly well this spring. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed no runs on one hit and three walks while striking out five in three outings.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't [surprised], just because I've shown up pretty well in camp," Archer said. "But it was a great conversation with Joe [Maddon], Andrew [Friedman] and [Jim] Hickey. And they just kind of laid it out for me and told me that I needed to go down to work on some things, continue to get better, continue to build off the second half of my Minor League season last year. And after the conversation, I was at ease, you know. There was no more surprise. I was pretty happy how the conversation went."
Archer is pleased with the way he has pitched.
"And they noticed what I was doing, working on my changeup, working on some things in different situations," Archer said. "They pointed that out, and they liked the fact that I came in working to earn a spot, but I came in to work on certain pitches and certain things. It was a great conversation."
Archer went 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in six games with the Rays last season, and four of those appearances were starts.
"Mixed with my conviction that I can compete at this level and with that conversation that we just had, there's no like malicious feelings going to Triple-A, going to the Minor Leagues for who knows how long," Archer said. "I know I have to continue to develop.
"Something's going to happen every year. Somebody goes down or they need an extra arm or whatever, so I'm going to make the most of my opportunity when I come up, but continue to maximize my potential in the Minor Leagues."
Odorizzi was one of the players who came over to the Rays in the trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals.
"Both of them, we feel, are a big part of our future," said Maddon of Archer and Odorizzi, Tampa Bay's No. 3 prospect. "We wanted to get them down pitching on a regular basis. For sure, we believe Archer could be here right now. But you can't have everybody, so we want to keep him ready in the event something were to happen, he'd be stretched out properly and be able to jump right into it. It's kind of a nice problem to have when you're that thick that you're sending back guys who are that good."
Rays announce 'District K-9' promo for Opening Day
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays announced Tuesday a new special seating section, dubbed "District K-9," that will be available for Opening Day on April 2 at Tropicana Field when 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price starts against the Orioles in a 3:10 p.m. ET contest.
That day, sections 132 and 134 will be known as District K-9. Tickets in the section will be specially priced at $50 and come with a District K-9 T-shirt and "K" card. Tickets can be purchased at raysbaseball.com/districtk9.
The pitching rotation is subject to change. In the event that Price does not pitch, tickets will still be valid and fans will still receive their T-shirt and "K" card. No refunds or exchanges will be available. This package may not be combined with any other offer.
For more information, please visit raysbaseball.com/districtk9 or call 888-FAN-RAYS.
Rays often have place for non-roster invitees
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jamey Wright is one of several non-roster invitees in camp. Should the veteran right-hander break camp with the team, it would mark the sixth straight season he came to camp as a non-roster invite and made the Opening Day roster.
The Rays have a pretty nice history of having non-roster invitees make the team since Joe Maddon took over the reigns as manager prior to the 2006 season. The following non-roster invitees have made the Opening Day squad: Jason Childers, Ruddy Lugo, and Luis Ordaz (2006); Gary Glover, Carlos Pena, and Al Reyes (2007); Eric Hinske (2008); and Juan Cruz (2011).
• Price will face Orioles Minor Leaguers in a Minor League game Wednesday at the Charlotte Sports Complex.
• Jeremy Hellickson and Dave Martinez will be guests on this week's edition of the Hot Stove radio show, airing on WDAE 620 AM from 7-8 p.m. ET Thursday from the Wyvern Hotel in Punta Gorda.
• On Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET, Sam Fuld will sign autographs from fans at the Walmart in Englewood (2931 S. McCall Road). On Saturday from 5-6 p.m. ET, Archer will be signing at the Port Charlotte Walmart (1900 Murdock Circle). Both appearances are courtesy of Pepsi.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.