Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' David Price reestablishes his dominance

ST. PETERSBURG — Already, the doubts had turned to whispers. Soon, the whispers would turn to moans. Eventually, those moans were going to turn into full-blown derision.

When a career seems to be going the wrong way, this is its soundtrack. One day, the talk was that David Price was promised tomorrow, and everyone agreed he was on his way to being another CC Sabathia. The next, he was yesterday's news, and he seemed to be stumbling down the Scott Kazmir career track.

As quick as a raised eyebrow, it seemed, Price had been marked down to half-price.

Then came Tuesday night, when a young pitcher restaked his claim as a one of the finest in the game.

For the Rays, it is difficult to imagine a finer sight than Price looking the way he used to look. He was explosive again. He was efficient again. He was there until the end again.

To sum it up, Price was dominant again in Tuesday night's five-hit shutout over the Angels, and it has been far too long since anyone suggested that of him.

Yeah, this is how he used to look — explosive and efficient, blistering and baffling. Once again, Price was in command of the game, of his fastball, of the altered perceptions of his place in the game.

"I needed that," Price said. "I needed to get that feeling back. It gets old coming out in the sixth inning."

As the words left Price's lips, you could imagine fans across Tampa Bay shouting, "Amen." In his three previous starts this season, Price had been pulled once in the seventh, once in the sixth and once after three innings.

The result was that unsettled feeling that Price was underachieving. After all, he was second in the Cy Young Award voting only two years ago. How could he have been only 12-13 last year? How had he been less than dominant this year?

Granted, that has been the cause of much of the grumbling about Price. He was so good so fast that, by now, some expected him to be unhittable. Finish second in the Cy Young voting and people tend to expect dominance every year.

Remember what a ball of fun Price was two years ago? Remember how good he was in the big moments? Remember how he etched the initials of former teammate Tyler Morrissey (who was killed in a car crash) on his glove? Perhaps it means something, but Tuesday was the four-year anniversary of Morrissey's death.

For the record, Price was aware of it, too. He talked to the Morrissey family before the start. Again. As he often does, he used Morrissey's memory as motivation. Again.

In other words, yeah, he's the same guy.

After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon studied the Rays statistics and shook his head.

"He's 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA," Maddon said. "People have been, like, kind of criticizing him a little bit. Those are pretty good numbers right there. When you're that good, there are a lot of high expectations attached to that kind of skill level. A guy like that has a kind of a speed bump, and it's exaggerated a little bit."

Maybe. But Price is also as talented as any pitcher on the staff, and it's hard to imagine the Rays making a run at the postseason if he struggles. When a pitcher gets off to a slow start after an unsatisfying year, people are bound to notice.

"Absolutely, it's out there," Price said. "That's in all sports. Everyone has critics. But I'm my own worst critic, so it didn't bother me."

Tuesday night, nothing seemed to bother Price, least of all the Angels. Maddon has suggested before that Price was still learning which of his pitches to use when, but for a night, he seemed to have figured it out.

Even more important, Price didn't waste a lot this time. In his first three starts, Price would struggle through innings throwing 29-30 pitches. This time, he didn't throw more than 18 in any one inning, and he had six innings in which he threw 14 or fewer.

In all, it was a start that suggests a restart. If Price keeps pitching like this, yes, the Rays can contend. If Price keeps pitching like this, yes, the Cy Young voters may remember his name.

As for Price, yes, his expectations are as high as they have ever been.

"I don't see why they wouldn't be," he said. "I'm throwing the ball just fine."

Fine, he said. Finally, some might add.

Comments
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18
A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

A look at Rays 40-man roster with spring training starting in less than a month

With the start of spring training now less than a month away, here is what the Rays roster looks like, with the most glaring hole at first base, which at this point seems likely to be manned by Brad Miller, and some questions about the pitching staff...
Published: 01/17/18
Rays opener will be late-afternoon affair

Rays opener will be late-afternoon affair

The Rays' March 29 season-opener against the Red Sox has been set for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Tropicana Field.This will be the ninth straight year the Rays have opened at home, and the third time they have opened against the rival Red Sox.  The ...
Published: 01/17/18
Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight    Ted Williams museum inductions

Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight Ted Williams museum inductions

Hall of Famer Tony Perez and longtime Phillies/White Sox star Dick Allen will be inducted into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame next month in Clearwater.Former Yankees Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry and longtime Astros ace J.R. Richard also wi...
Published: 01/16/18
Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- itís TV tidbits time

Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- itís TV tidbits time

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best comebackExcuse Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for getting so carried away that he dropped the queen bee of curse words on live television Sun...
Published: 01/14/18
Jesuit High product Lance McCullers gets big raise, avoids arbitration

Jesuit High product Lance McCullers gets big raise, avoids arbitration

Astros right-hander Lance McCullers, a Tampa native and former Jesuit High standout, reached a one-year deal for $2.45 million on Friday, avoiding arbitration. McCullers, 24, made $548,000 last season.
Published: 01/12/18
Jake Odorizzi, Adeiny Hechavarria lone Rays set for arbitration

Jake Odorizzi, Adeiny Hechavarria lone Rays set for arbitration

ST. PETERSBURG ó For the second straight winter, pitcher Jake Odorizzi is taking the Rays to arbitration.Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria will join him.They were the only two of the nine arbitration-eligible Rays to not agree to a one-year contract by Fr...
Published: 01/12/18
Odorizzi, Hechavarria heading to arbitration

Odorizzi, Hechavarria heading to arbitration

The Rays have reached agreements on 2018 contracts with seven of their nine arbitration-eligible players with pitcher Jake Odorizzi and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria heading to arbitration.Odorizzi made $4.1 million last season after taking the R...
Published: 01/12/18
Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi among Raysí arbitration-eligible players

Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi among Raysí arbitration-eligible players

ST. PETERSBURG ó The payroll for the 2018 season will become clearer this afternoon after the Rays and their nine arbitration-eligible players exchange figures on one-year contracts.Those who do not agree to the clubís offer will head to arbitration ...
Published: 01/11/18