Jake McGee took the mound Tuesday during the fourth inning for another inning of work this spring, and up stepped David Ortiz.

Perfect.

The left-handed McGee was hoping to face a left-handed batter Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Boston Red Sox. Having faced three righties in his first outing this spring, McGee was itching to throw his curveball to a left-hander. Who better than Ortiz, Boston's left-handed slugger?

McGee's first pitch was a curveball in the dirt. It drew a check swing from Ortiz. Strike one.

“It's still early in the spring, but it was definitely a good start,” McGee said.

McGee put his curveball on the shelf in 2010 in favor of a slider when he moved to the bullpen at Triple-A Durham. But looking for more separation from his high-90s fastball, McGee has pulled the 11-to-5 curveball out of the mothballs.

“Jake can really spin a ball,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Even a couple of years ago when I first saw him I thought that curveball had some potential, but you hear otherwise. It was a hard pitch for him to command.”

A couple of years ago, McGee was a young pitcher taking his first steps at the big-league level. He thought he could get by with two speeds — fast and faster. Now, after 185 relief appearances with the Rays, McGee realized that slower can be better, especially when he can change the plane of the ball crossing home plate.

“Now I realize the importance of it,” McGee said. “Fastball is always going to be my No. 1, go-to pitch.”

And No. 1 will look a lot better with a good No. 2.