ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Blue Jays and Rays will send a pair of promising right-handers to the mound when the two teams square off Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay will go with Alex Cobb, while the Blue Jays will counter with Drew Hutchison. If either team hopes to contend this year, it likely will be because of strong years from its young arms.
Cobb gets the honor of following left-hander David Price in the rotation after a year in which he posted a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts.
"I think his confidence is even greater right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You can't say his stuff's any better. Maybe just the utilization of those pitches might be a little more refined. I think he's done a better job out of the stretch.
"So I think that's something we've talked about that he's gotten better with. But primarily he has a real confidence level. This guy is Opening Day starter-caliber. ... He's very worthy of pitching on anybody's Opening Day. And he knows that."
Hutchison became one of the Blue Jays' biggest storylines during Spring Training as he led the club with 19 strikeouts in 15 innings. He arguably had the best spring of any Toronto pitcher despite missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery.
There were no lingering effects of that injury this spring, and after a quiet offseason, the Blue Jays are clearly relying on Hutchison to fill a big hole in their rotation.
"We like him, he has a chance to become a really good one. Ever since he had the Tommy John, he's throwing better than he was," manager John Gibbons said. "He's a pitcher ... he's kind of an effortless-type guy. I think he's going to have a big, big year for us."
Blue Jays: Reyes on DL with tight hamstring
Toronto has only played one game this season and is already reeling because of injuries. The club lost closer Casey Janssen just one day before the start of the year and during the first inning of Opening Day Jose Reyes also went down with an injury.
Reyes suffered a strained left hamstring following his first at-bat of the year and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. It's the same injury he dealt with during the final week of Spring Training and cost him several exhibition games.
"Hopefully it doesn't get any worse, if it gets any worse it's going to be disappointing not just for me but for the whole team," Reyes said just before the DL news became official.
"I worked so hard this offseason just to get ready for Spring Training, play for a full year, and now I have to deal with this thing, it's no fun at all. I want to be on the field but it's one of those things, injuries happen, it's part of the game and I have to deal with it."
Rays: DeJesus questionable with foot injury
Left fielder David DeJesus had to leave Monday's 9-2 victory over the Blue Jays in the eighth inning after getting hit on the right foot in his fourth at-bat.
Blue Jays right-hander Jeremy Jeffress hit DeJesus with one out. After DeJesus took his base, he was lifted for pinch-runner Brandon Guyer. X-rays were taken and came back negative. When asked if he would play Tuesday, DeJesus replied: "[I'll] see how it feels, you know. Just go like that."
• The Blue Jays haven't won a road series vs the Rays since April 6-8, 2007. The stretch of 19 consecutive non-winning series at Tropicana Field is the longest such streak since the Rays had 25 consecutive non-winning series at Fenway Park from 2000-08.
• With Monday's victory, Tampa Bay improved to 50-17 since 2008 when playing in front of home crowds of at least 30,000 during the regular season.
• Outfielder Wil Myers tied his career high with three hits during his first season opener. The last Rays players to record three hits on Opening Day were Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena in 2012 against the Yankees.