The hallmark of the Tampa Bay Rays has been the quality of their starting pitching, and it's the primary reason so many spring training predictions have labeled the team a World Series contender in 2012.
The challenge has been whittling the staff from a Pick Six to a Gimme Five.
But that issue was officially resolved as expected Tuesday morning, when manager Joe Maddon named Jeff Niemann as the final piece of the five-man staff, moving previous starter Wade Davis to the bullpen after a monthlong competition for the remaining spot.
Maddon, speaking to the media in advance of the Rays-Red Sox game in Fort Myers, made it clear that the decision was a difficult one, noting that Davis ultimately seemed like a better fit coming in as a reliever.
It was not based on any kind of spring training performance, Maddon said. The point I want to make is this isnt your typical 'other guy in the rotation' kind of a battle, because we have such faith in both of these guys.
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