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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon confident David Price will bounce back

ARLINGTON, Texas — LHP David Price hasn't won in his past six starts and had disappointing outings at several key junctures down the stretch. But that didn't deter the Rays from choosing him over RHP Jeremy Hellickson to start Game 3 on Tuesday.

And to admit that the decision was based in part on having Price set up to pitch the opener of the AL Championship Series if the Rays advance.

"David is a big part of our present and future, and I have a lot of faith in him," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's not hurt; he's well. He's one of the better pitchers in baseball, second in the Cy Young (voting) last year. If there was an injury involved or something like that, yes, there would be a concern about it.

"But David belongs out there on the third game. We'll see how that works out. I feel very good about it actually. We'll talk about maybe a little different kind of game plan, something like that, but otherwise I feel good about him."

Hellickson is scheduled to start Game 4 on Tuesday at Tropicana Field, and the Rays plan to bring Saturday starter RHP James Shields back for a potential Thursday Game 5 in Texas.

Price, who hasn't beaten the Rangers in eight starts (0-5, 5.48), said he welcomed the opportunity for a second chance and said he was "absolutely" confident he would deliver.

"That's the type of pitcher I feel that I am," he said. "I got knocked down on Wednesday, and I'll get back up and go back it."

Maddon acknowledged the appeal of pitching Hellickson, who was 4-1, 2.67 in September, against the predominantly right-handed Rangers but said there were multiple reasons to pick Price.

He also said rookie sensation Matt Moore was "a wild card" as they set future pitching plans.

PENMANSHIP: There was an underlying reason behind the decision to move RHP Wade Davis to the bullpen: a potential replacement if RH closer Kyle Farnsworth has further elbow issues.

Davis worked a scoreless ninth Friday in the first relief appearance of his pro career and impressed by hitting 94 mph. If Farnsworth or setup man Joel Peralta, who have both needed time off recently, had issues, Davis could be used.

"Wade makes it thicker, gives us more options," Maddon said. "And if we get into a nice little run — Kyle has had a little bit of a soreness problem — he is kind of like a security blanket regarding that whole group."

TARP TALK: Monday's Game 3 sold out early Sunday, and Tuesday's game is getting close, but team president Matt Silverman said there are no plans to remove the tarps that cover about 6,000 seats in the upper deck. The plans could change if the Rays advance to the ALCS.

MISCELLANY: The Rays are having an optional workout today since they have to have players at the stadium to fulfill media responsibilities, but Maddon said he'd prefer they rest: "I don't care if anybody shows up." Players and pitchers not on the playoff roster, some of whom have been working out with the instructional league team, will have a simulated game. … LF Desmond Jennings was back in the leadoff spot after a one-game demotion to eighth, Maddon satisfied with the improvement in his at-bats. … Saxophonist B.K. Jackson, a good-luck charm during the 2008 postseason, will perform the national anthem Monday.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon confident David Price will bounce back 10/01/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 2, 2011 7:55pm]
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