BRADENTON -- Several kids and a few adults flocked to the fence separating the sidewalk leading into the visitor's clubhouse from the rest of McKechnie Field.
They were there to get a precious autograph from major leaguers performing rehab stints with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Tampa Bay Rays' Class-A advanced club, on Wednesday.
Jake Odorizzi was the main target midway through the Florida State League game against the Bradenton Marauders.
The Rays starting pitcher made his first rehab start since going on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain in early June.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"It went about as well as it could," said Odorizzi, who has a 2.47 ERA in 76 2/3 innings pitched this season for Tampa Bay. "Arm felt really good. Breaking pitches were really good. I was surprised with the sharpness after not pitching for three weeks."
Odorizzi threw 57 pitches in Wednesday's start, fanning two batters and allowing one earned run and two hits.
He had one perfect frame in four innings, which yielded a 66.6 percent strike rate in the Stone Crabs' 5-2 victory.
"I felt like it was pre-injury, so that was the most important thing," said Odorizzi,
who was acquired by Tampa Bay in a trade with the Kansas City Royals that involved James Shields. "It was just a big step getting through this with no pain, no nothing and with consistent stuff."
The lone trouble Odorizzi found came in the bottom of the second inning when Bradenton's Harold Ramirez belted an offering to the right field corner that became a triple after Charlotte right fielder Yoel Araujo juggled the ball before relaying back to the infield.
Ramirez scored on Jin-De Jhang's groundout to shortstop Willy Adames.
"I just think, I want to hit the fastball," said Ramirez, a native Colombian who is ranked the No. 10 prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, according to Baseball America. "It don't matter if he throw change-up, breaking ball. I just want to hit the fastball. ... We feel excited, because he play in the big leagues. I don't know, I feel happy when I hit (him)."
Odorizzi said he wasn't sure if another rehab start was going to happen. He added that one more would be the max, if that is the decision.
"The stuff I had (Wednesday), I could've taken into today's game and been perfectly fine," Odorizzi said.
Odorizzi said his fastball and breaking pitches felt good, and he threw more curveballs than he normally would because "that's the toughest pitch I have to get a feel for."
His appearance in Bradenton on Wednesday meant avoiding throwing on the same day as Matt Moore, who returns to the Rays on Thursday for his first major league start in 14 months following Tommy John surgery.
Therefore, no conflict will arise when Odorizzi returns to Tampa Bay's starting rotation.
In addition to Odorizzi's appearance, fans also saw John Jaso and James Loney rehabbing for Tampa Bay with the Stone Crabs. Jaso went 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run, while Loney collected two hits in three at-bats. Loney also corralled a hot shot off Bradenton's Michael Fransoso's bat at first base to end the bottom of the second inning.
Former Palmetto High standout Granden Goetzman hit cleanup for the Stone Crabs. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.