Doting dad Odorizzi ready to get back to work

Righty enjoyed spending time with his son during offseason

Doting dad Odorizzi ready to get back to work

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi had one goal in mind this past offseason.

"I tried improving on being a dad," Odorizzi said. "There was really no big thing baseball related. Go through the offeason, get stronger, all that good stuff. From a baseball standpoint, I'm pretty happy with everything. Where I ended last year. Just add a few more innings.

"Mainly just being a dad, enjoying my son and getting that quality time I don't get in during the season on a daily basis. Just hanging out. We throw the ball around a little bit. It's just all sorts of fun stuff. He gets into everything."

Odorizzi's son, Rhett, is 1, so having the above-mentioned offseason goal certainly was ambitious. The Rays right-hander believes he did well. Now it's time for baseball.

Odorizzi will make his first start of the spring on Wednesday afternoon against the Phillies at Charlotte Sports Park at 1:05 p.m. ET, a game streaming exclusively via a Raysbaseball.com audio webcast.

"It's getting back to being familiar with having a game environment," Odorizzi said. "Obviously, I haven't pitched in a game since September, October, whatever it was last year. Just to get the feel again is the main thing in the first outing."

Odorizzi said the main goal on Wednesday will be to throw strikes.

"It doesn't matter how it goes as long as you can be around the zone," Odorizzi said. "Consistency with some offspeed pitches, I think that's a win for your first outing. I'm just going to focus on throwing some strikes and kind of filling up the zone."

Odorizzi went 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 2016, making him the only member of the team's starting rotation to post a winning record. His second half fueled the final results.

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After the All-Star break, he went 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 starts.

"I just started having better results," Odorizzi said. "Maybe repeating better, having better pitch selection. It's all stuff that comes with the season."

As for picking up this season where he left off last year …

"All I can do is prepare to go seven innings from the get-go," he said.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.