PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Wade Davis is off to a strong in his campaign to keep his spot in Tampa Bay's rotation.
The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings Monday in a 3-1 loss to a split-squad of Baltimore Orioles, striking out one in a 28-pitch outing.
"Sharp, real sharp. Aggressive in the strike zone," manager Joe Maddon said. "He went right after hitters, was not messing around. I like that."
Alfredo Simon and three other Orioles pitchers combined to limit the Rays to one hit until the ninth inning, when Pedro Strop allowed a leadoff single to Jeff Salazar and Stephen Vogt's one-out RBI double.
Nick Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk off Alex Cobb in the fifth to drive in Baltimore's first run. Ryan Flaherty added a two-run triple off Matt Torra in the eighth.
"We played a lot of young kids and did well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before returning to Sarasota, where the rest of the Orioles played their spring training home opener Monday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Simon allowed a two-out double to Ben Zobrist in the first inning and retired the Rays in order in the second. He was replaced by Brad Bergesen, who yielded a walk and struck out two in two innings to get the win. Miguel Socolovich and Zach Phillips each worked a pair of scoreless innings, too.
"A good way to start it out," Bergesen said.
"Everybody pitched well today," Showalter said, "including Pedro."
Davis led AL rookies with 12 wins in 2010 and won 11 more games last season, helping Tampa Bay to its third playoff berth in four years.
But with as many as eight pitchers likely to get a shot at starting games some time this season, the 26-year-old's spot in one of baseball's best rotations could be at stake in the coming weeks.
Davis yielded one hit and struck one in a crisp spring debut.
"I thought it was good. I think I stayed under control. Threw all my pitches, and I threw everything for strikes," Davis said. "I've still got to get better at some things, but that was a good first day."
The Rays entered spring training with a surplus of candidates for the rotation after addressing their top offseason priorities — adding power to the middle of the batting order and bolstering the bullpen — without having to trade any of the team's established pitchers or promising minor league prospects.
In addition to returning last year's rotation of David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann and Davis, Cobb and left-handers Matt Moore and Alex Torres all figure to get an opportunity to start games for the Rays this season.
Cobb, who made eight starts over three stints with Tampa Bay last season, allowed one run and three hits, walked two and struck out two in 1 1-3 innings in his first significant appearance since undergoing season-ending surgery to remove a blood clot and blockage in the area of one of his right ribs.
The 24-year-old right-hander also pitched in an intrasquad game last week.
"My major concern was that he felt well and he did," Maddon said.
NOTES: Showalter said minor league INF Travis Adair was hit in the head by a batted ball during batting practice. Precautionary tests were negative, and the manager said Adair was returning to Sarasota with the team. ... Moore, who's been slowed IN camp by a mild lower abdominal strain, threw a bullpen session and said he felt fine.