Saturday, November 25, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Hellickson would get Rays' Game 4 start

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BOSTON — The Rays will need to go to at least four games if they are going to beat the Red Sox. And if there is a Game 4 on Tuesday at the Trop, RHP Jeremy Hellickson is slated to be on the mound.

The Rays chose Hellickson despite his ongoing struggles because they felt he matched up better against the Red Sox than rookie RHP Chris Archer based primarily, manager Joe Maddon said, on "our little esoteric stuff." Archer will be in the bullpen, and he was used in Friday's Game 1. RHP Jake Odorizzi was another option.

Hellickson, who hasn't gotten through five innings in his past three starts, admitted he was concerned about even being on the Division Series roster, so he was "very happy" to hear he would get a start.

"It's, I guess, a little fortunate," he said. "I haven't really given them a good reason to send me back out there these last few months. So it's really nice they still have confidence in me to go out there. … If it does (go to a Game 4), I'm glad I'm going to be that guy."

Hellickson said he hasn't lost confidence despite the ongoing struggles.

"I know I'm still capable of being that guy I was in the middle of the year, the last couple of years," he said. "I've just got to make the big pitches when I need to, and I haven't done that. It's pretty frustrating."

PRICE CHANGE? It's been a few weeks, but LHP David Price acknowledged that he has considered that his time with the Rays could be coming to an end, with the possibility of a financially driven trade this offseason.

But when he takes the mound today in Game 2, he insists he's not going to be thinking about any more of the future than the next pitch he'll throw.

"Honestly, this is a time right now for pure excitement, pure joy for our team, our organization," he said. "Those thoughts have crossed my mind, but they haven't in a couple of weeks. And that's good. I want those thoughts to stay away. I want to enjoy my time here. Whatever happens, I don't know. I want to completely absorb myself in my team and my teammates like we have all year. And that's a big part of why we're here right now."

Price is coming off a tremendous complete-game performance in Monday's tiebreaker in Texas, and he said with good fastball command there is no reason he can't do as well again today.

Maddon is expecting him to do well, buoyed by overcoming the mental hurdles he did in beating the Rangers in Arlington in a big game. "I'm really eager to see his next performance," Maddon said, "because I think it's going to be as good as he can be, based on what he's done, where his confidence is right now, and this time of year. He's very jacked up about this whole thing."

ROSTER SHUFFLE: The team went back to a more traditional arrangement of 11 pitchers and 14 position players in setting its ALDS roster. It had nine pitchers and 16 players for Wednesday's one-game wild-card playoff at Cleveland.

Price and Hellickson were added, while third catcher Chris Gimenez and extra defensive OF Kevin Kiermaier were dropped. Maddon said there was some debate between keeping LH Wesley Wright and switching to LH Cesar Ramos, but they stayed with Wright based on "some really minute thoughts."

Odorizzi, Kiermaier and pinch-runner OF Freddy Guzman were sent home.

MISCELLANY: Batting practice was canceled for both teams due to midafternoon rain. Maddon said MLB officials did so in fairness so one team wouldn't get to hit while the other didn't. … 2B Ben Zobrist has a nine-game postseason hitting streak, matching B.J. Upton for the franchise best. … The Red Sox won their first postseason game since beating the Rays in Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS.

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