Jeff Niemann said he is disappointed to be heading to the bullpen. Surprised? No.


“Not really,” he said. “You kind of start to see how things are going to play out.”


Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon announced the starting rotation Friday morning, with Roberto Hernandez in the third spot.


David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, starts Tuesday’s season opener against the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He’s followed in the rotation by Jeremy Hellickson, Hernandez, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb.


Hernandez will be first pitcher who joined the organization as a free agent to start a game since Hideo Nomo, on July 15, 2005.


Niemann, who has started 92 of his 97 big-league games with the Rays and all but three since he joined the rotation in 2010, will begin the season in the bullpen. The move, Maddon said, was made to help Niemann build arm strength and regain his velocity.


“We’re a little bit, I don’t want to say concerned, but we believe there’s more in there velocity-wise, if we give him more time, that you’re eventually going to see that come back to him,” Maddon said. “That was it.”


Niemann normally throws between 88 and 91 mph. He touched 88 a few times Wednesday during his final start of the spring.