PHOENIX — Chris Archer is very, very driven.
The Rays rookie right-hander constantly pushes himself physically and mentally to maximize every opportunity he gets.
And when he takes the mound tonight against the Diamondbacks, the Monday announcement that he was voted the American League's pitcher and rookie of the month will motivate him even further.
Because of what the awards meant not so much to him, but to others.
"I think it speaks to all the people who have been in my corner and to all the people who doubted me, who fueled me with doubt," Archer said Tuesday. "Because everybody I know back home who supported me, my family and my friends, they sit back and they take a deep breath and say, 'That's my boy,' and just smile silently inside themselves.
"I think the same goes for people who doubted me, who told me I couldn't, who cut me from teams, who suggest I play other sports. I think they take a step back and think, 'Maybe we shouldn't be so blunt with a young kid. Maybe we should be a little bit more encouraging.'
"It's an honor, because guys around the league did really well — rookies, and other starting pitchers and relievers. So it's an honor, but for me, it feels better to make my friends and family proud. And the people who tried to hold me down, I like the feeling that it gives them, too. Not like a negative feeling, but just a reminder, 'Hey, maybe we should approach the youth a little differently with how we motivate them.' "
Archer was cut from his seventh-grade team, and it clearly stuck with him.
"Whenever you're 12 years old and you have a dream and somebody tells you you can't accomplish it, it can tear you down. And there's been tears shed," he said. "This is kind of deep, but every element possesses positives and negative forces that makes the element what it is, and those negative forces made me who I am equally as much as the positive ones did.
"So without the people in my life who are negative I don't need the people who are positive. So, yeah, it took a toll on me, but I was 12, so I learned lessons when I was 12 that I can apply 12 years later. … It helps me to this day. I'm not mad about it, I'm actually happy it happened. Just another humbling experience that I'm glad I went through."
Less deep but more relevant, Archer said that coming off a Friday outing that was not as effective or successful as his previous seven was a learning experience as well.
"That's why we stick to our routine," Archer said. "That's why we have consistent thoughts. That's why (pitching coach Jim Hickey) constantly challenges us to be better, because we're facing big-league hitters. One through nine they can all do damage in some way, so, yes, it was a very good reminder, and we're sticking to what we've been working on for the past few months and hopefully we can get the same consistent result that we've been getting."
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.