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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price excited to pitch against his favorite team

LHP David Price's start tonight against the Braves will be a little special.

"That was my team growing up," he said, smiling.

Price said he and his parents would try to make the 3½-hour drive from Nashville to catch a series in Atlanta at least once a season. He has a baseball card of his favorite Braves player, David Justice, in his Tropicana Field locker.

"It is pretty exciting," Price said of pitching in Atlanta. "It's probably everybody's goal in here to play in every stadium in the big leagues. It's something my parents want to do, is go to every one, and now that I think about it, I'd like to play in all of them."

Price's father, Bonnie, has about 230 friends driving from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to watch the series, all wearing No. 14 T-shirts for Price's number. But Price is more focused on the task at hand: Facing a tough Braves lineup that includes slugging rookie OF Jason Heyward.

"He's pretty impressive," Price said. "There's a couple young guys we've been seeing here recently that are going to make some big marks in baseball."

HIGH PRAISE: Though manager Joe Maddon doesn't know Braves manager Bobby Cox very well, he has admired him from afar for a long time. Cox, 69, who has 2,450 wins over 29 seasons — including 15 division titles — will retire after this season.

"Bobby Cox is among the best ever," Maddon said. "You talk about what they've done up there for an extended period of time, wouldn't you love to do that here? The way they put up all those flags on an annual basis, they've got their world championship. It's always been a very stable situation with him at the helm, and you've gotta really look at that."

RHP Lance Cormier, one of several Rays who have played for Cox, understands why he's so respected.

"He's very supportive of his players," Cormier said. "Even to the sense where if the players are wrong, they just show that they're close to right and he's going to stick up for his players — no questions asked. So it's always good to know when your manager is 100 percent behind you."

BARTlett UPDATE: SS Jason Bartlett, on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, played seven innings at shortstop for Triple-A Durham on Monday, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. He's scheduled to DH today for the Bulls and could rejoin the Rays in Atlanta on Wednesday.

WEB GEMS: While INF Sean Rodriguez has garnered attention for his 14-game hitting streak, his defensive play and that of SS Reid Brignac have created as many highlights. On Sunday, Brignac dived to his left to snag a grounder and flipped it with his glove to Rodriguez, who turned an inning-ending double play in the second. Then in the third, Rodriguez raced up the middle to grab a Hanley Ramirez grounder and, while jumping, threw him out.

"They've been fun to watch," Maddon said. "Their defense has been tremendous."

MINOR MATTERS: Durham OF Desmond Jennings earned the International League batter of the week honors. For the week, Jennings led the league with 14 hits, a .538 batting average, seven extra-base hits, three triples, nine runs scored, 11 RBIs and a .581 on-base percentage.

MISCELLANY: LF Carl Crawford has moved up into second place among outfielders in the American League All-Star voting with 1,123,132 votes, ahead of the Rangers' Nelson Cruz (1,093,099) and behind leader Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners (1,231,950). 3B Evan Longoria still leads AL third basemen at 1,958,855. 1B Carlos Peña and 2B Ben Zobrist are each fifth at their positions, with Bartlett fourth.

Milestone watch

LHP David Price is aiming tonight to be the fastest Ray to reach 10 wins; RHP Rolando Arrojo won his 10th game on June 27, 1998, in the team's 79th game. Price is already the fastest to nine wins (June 9), ahead of Arrojo, who won No. 9 on June 17, 1998.

Batter up

LHP David Price, 1-for-5 in his career at the plate, is hoping a hot bat will help tonight. Price said he got a bat from Yankees 2B Robinson Cano (who is hitting .371). "He's hitting like .400 so maybe I can take a couple of his points away from him," Price said, joking.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price excited to pitch against his favorite team 06/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 10:13pm]
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