MIAMI — LHP David Price's promotion won't be official today as the Rays shuffle their planned roster moves following Akinori Iwamura's injury. But when he takes the mound tonight in Cleveland, the Rays expect it to be the start of something long-lasting and special.
"When you develop a player like David Price, you always try to pick your spots so that when he arrives, he stays," manager Joe Maddon said.
Price will get the chance, as he takes Scott Kazmir's spot in the rotation unbridled by the 75-pitch limits and cautious handling the Rays had him under in the minor leagues. Maddon said Price, 23, will be treated like the other starters, with an adjustable limit of 90-100 pitches.
"It's kind of like taking a race horse out there and always holding him back a bit," Maddon said. "Now we're going to kind of let him go."
Price was a postseason sensation in relief, but the Rays didn't think he was ready for starting duty at the beginning of the season. They sent him to Triple-A Durham and he went 1-4, 3.93 in eight restricted starts, and got better as he went, working five no-hit innings with nine strikeouts in his last outing.
ROSTER SHUFFLE: RHP Dale Thayer was scheduled to be sent back to Triple A to make room for Price; his luggage wasn't even on the truck headed for the airport. And Reid Brig-nac was expected to stay with the team only a few more days.
But with Iwamura headed to the DL, that all changed. Now Price can be added in Iwamura's spot, and Thayer can be kept around until DH Pat Burrell (neck strain) is ready to come off the DL, on Tuesday or shortly thereafter.
With Adam Kennedy traded to Oakland and Elliot Johnson sidelined with a broken wrist, Brignac seems likely to stay with the Rays as the backup middle infielder as Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist get time at second in Iwamura's place.
MADDON DEAL DONE: Maddon's new three-year deal, putting him under contract through 2012, is expected to be announced today.
BARTLETT SORE: As if losing Iwamura weren't bad enough, SS Jason Bartlett is likely to be out at least tonight after spraining his left ankle on a play at second in the 10th, when Dan Uggla slid into him. "I just twisted it a little bit," Bartlett said. "(Today) was a day off anyway, so I'm hoping it feels better."
FINE NOT FINE: Maddon doesn't expect any renewal of hostilities during the four-game series with Cleveland but said it was not right that he was fined $500 by MLB for inciting the benches-clearing incident in their last meeting May 17.
"That's totally unjust," he said. "Totally unjust. I didn't incite anything. I was reacting. There's a difference between inciting and reacting. I think the reaction part of things — if that's going to be fined then the inciter should also be fined. To indicate I was the inciter is a total misconception, misappropriation, lack of good judgment in that situation."
Maddon wasn't the only one disciplined, however. Indians closer Kerry Wood was fined for throwing at B.J. Upton — and told the Plain Dealer it was more than Maddon's $500 — and Victor Martinez for his comments about the play.
MEDICAL MATTERS: Burrell, out since May 11 with a neck strain, will rejoin the team today and be evaluated. … RHP Chad Bradford (February elbow surgery) made his first rehab appearance Sunday for Class A Charlotte, working one shutout inning, allowing one hit and getting three groundouts.
MISCELLANY: Carl Crawford swiped two bases for a major-league-most 28 without being caught and has 30 straight going back to last season. … The Rays' seven-game winning streak at Land Shark Stadium ended. … The start of Sunday's game was delayed 22 minutes by wet fields. … Former USF star Ross Gload, who had the winning hit, has a .367 average against the Rays. … James Shields allowed a career-high 12 hits.