DETROIT — Despite the distraction of a potential trade, ace LHP David Price has pitched well enough that he may be elected by his peers to the American League All-Star team that will be announced before he starts tonight.
Price said he'd be honored to make his fourth All-Star squad but Rays teammate LHP Jake McGee is even more worthy of going to the July 15 game.
"Jake McGee has to be an All-Star," Price said. "If we have to send somebody, it's him the way he's throwing the baseball."
McGee leads all AL relievers with a 1.17 ERA and hasn't allowed a run in 38 of his 41 appearances. But he has only four saves, which doesn't stack up to the closers who typically populate All-Star rosters. McGee has been asked about the possibility almost daily, especially once manager Joe Maddon began touting his candidacy, and is eager for resolution tonight.
"I'm still tempering my enthusiasm, just kind of going with it," McGee said. "I feel like I've got a pretty good chance. I'm just happy with how well I've done this year and feel fortunate I have a chance to be on the All-Star team. Just to be in the discussion is an honor."
Eight pitchers are elected by a vote of the players, then four or five are named by AL/Boston manager John Farrell, who (in also picking two or three position players) has to make sure each team is represented.
Price said being elected by his peers is the ultimate honor and if chosen there would be "two cool things" about the game: It's Derek Jeter's finale and it's in Minnesota, where the Rays resume play afterward.
FORT WAYNE'S FINEST: They weren't particularly pretty, but rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier tied a team record with two triples in Saturday's 7-2 win over the Tigers, the sixth Ray to do so in a game.
On the first, Kiermaier was so locked in on third-base coach Tom Foley that he had to hit the brakes between second and third until being sure C Ryan Hanigan was going to score. On the next, Kiermaier nearly fell as he rounded second. "I got a little too excited," he said. "It was not very graceful, but I was able to get to third base safe and sound."
His season-high-matching three hits, besides snapping an 0-for-16 stretch, were special because Kiermaier had more than a dozen friends and relatives up from his native Fort Wayne, Ind.
REHAB REPORT: SS Yunel Escobar's shoulder felt good enough after another throwing session that he headed home, with plans for a three-day rehab assignment and a return to the lineup Friday. Escobar will play shortstop for the GCL team in Port Charlotte on Monday, then DH for advanced Class A Charlotte on Tuesday and play shortstop Wednesday. He is eligible to be activated Thursday, but the Rays are off.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson felt good in a bullpen session at the Trop on Saturday, but Maddon said they had not finalized whether to activate Hellickson for a return to the rotation or option him to the minors for additional work. His 30-day rehab assignment ends today. Hellickson is on schedule to start Tuesday, which would be in place of LHP Erik Bedard. If that is the plan, the Rays could either bump Bedard to the bullpen or seek to trade him.
MISCELLANY: RHP Chris Archer allowed his first homer Saturday since May 11, snapping a stretch of 611/3 innings without one. … Tonight is the Rays' ninth appearance on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball; they are 2-6. … Before flying home this afternoon to be rested for Monday's start, RHP Jake Odorizzi wanted to play catch, so he and bullpen catcher Scott Cursi will go to a park near the team hotel in Birmingham, Mich. … Maddon said Seminole medicine man Bobby Henry will be back at the Trop on Monday; the Rays are 16-10 since his June 9 visit.