It’s a starting pitching role or bust for Tampa Bay Rays hopeful Erik Bedard.
The Canadian left-hander, who signed a minor league contract with the American League team on the opening day of spring training, has told the Tampa Tribune he would exercise his opt-out clause and try to latch on with another club.
“There’s a lot of starters who have been hurt [in spring training] so there’s a lot of chances and I’ll probably go somewhere else,” Bedard, 35, said Tuesday. “Every day it seems like a starter goes down. There’s a lot of opportunities out there if I’m not on the team.”
The opt-out clause in Bedard’s contract doesn’t kick in until March 31.
Rays manager Joe Maddon told reports Tuesday night he would probably announce the team’s fifth starter on Saturday. Cesar Ramos and Jake Odorizzi are also vying for the job.
The winner would fill in for Jeremy Hellickson, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Jan. 28 and has set June 1 as the target for his return.
In four games this spring including two starts, Bedard has a 2-1 record and 7.15 earned-run average. The Navan, Ont., native has allowed 17 hits over 11 1/3 innings while walking five and striking out six while opposing hitters are batting .347 against him.
Maddon said the organization won’t stand in Bedard’s way if he doesn’t make the rotation.
“I really like this guy. He’s really ingratiated himself to a lot of us in a very brief period of time,” said Maddon of Bedard. “He’s a professional.”
Bedard’s next and, perhaps final, start for the Rays is scheduled for Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Port Charlotte, Fla.
He went 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 32 games, including 26 starts, for Houston last year. He is 67-76 overall in 10 seasons with Baltimore, Seattle, Boston, Pittsburgh and the Astros.
Two years ago, he went 7-14 with a career-worst 5.01 ERA in 24 starts for the Pirates.
From 2004 to 2007, Bedard was 40-34 with the Orioles, winning 15 games in 2006. He was just as impressive the following year, when he was 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts.