John Romano of the St. Pete Times gives us some quotes from Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman that make it sound as if the Rays are leaning towards using Jeff Niemann in the bullpen despite assertions that he is competing for the final spot in the rotation.
“You always think about the possibility [of Niemann being a reliever], and then when you actually see it, it becomes even more of a possibility,” Maddon said. “You put him in late in a game and see 96, 97 mph and the downhill look, and it’s like, ‘Holy (cow)’ [ed. note: Romano substituted 'cow' for another word to protect the innocent]…”Now we’re going to give him a chance, absolutely, to be the fifth starter. But there’s a real possibility he could go to the bullpen and really help us. He’s the kind of guy you’d have to nurture through, but he’s got real potential.”
Maddon and Friedman said that one relief appearance last September convinced them that Niemann could be a dominant reliever.(…)
Read the rest of Is Jeff Niemann’s Fate Already Sealed? (317 words)