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Tampa Bay Rays to prepare David Price for playoffs with relief stint, may give him shot at 20th win

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rays wanted to get David Price a couple of innings work tonight as a tuneup for his playoffs-opening start. And they're setting it up so that there's a chance he could get his 20th win, and the accompanying boost in the Cy Young balloting, in the process.

Price is scheduled for two innings, or about 30-40 pitches, in relief, "just enough to stay sharp, keep his edge, get a little sweat going," manager Joe Maddon said.

RHP Andy Sonnanstine will start but is not expected to work the requisite five innings to qualify for a win.

That's where it could get interesting. If the Rays have or take the lead when Price is pitching and keep it, the win will be awarded at the discretion of the official scorer to the reliever, based on MLB rule 10.17 (b) 2, that he deems "the most effective."

Maddon insisted the primary purpose of the outing is to get Price the work, though they obviously could have accomplished that just as easily by starting him.

As for that 20th win?

"That's possible," Maddon said. "You never know. It's arbitrary. (The main thing) is just to get him out there and see how it all works out."

RHP Wade Davis was originally to start tonight, but the Rays shifted him to Sunday so Price could still have three days' rest before Wednesday's division series opener at home against Texas or at Minnesota. Plus doing it this way allows Davis, who is in line to start Game 3 or 4 of the playoffs, to work as deep as he can into Sunday's game.

LONGORIA REPORT: 3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) felt so good after his afternoon workout that he told Sun Sports' Todd Kalas in a taped interview that he would be in the lineup at DH.

Longoria, who last played Sept. 23, was "pretty adamant" about returning when he met with his bosses, but Maddon chose to play it cautiously "because I believe the first game of the playoffs is much more important" than Friday's game.

Maddon is willing to "listen" to Longoria's pleas again today but said it remains a possibility that he won't put him back in the lineup until Wednesday's playoff opener.

"It's not because he can't," Maddon said. "My concern is any kind of reinjury may force him into a DH role possibly, whereas I want him on the field.''

Longoria said he wants to play but understands the concern: "I'm fine with that.'' If he doesn't get into a game here, he said he'd face Rays pitchers in some sort of simulated game.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Rays most likely will carry 11 pitchers on their postseason roster, Maddon said, which means 14 instead of 15 position players, potentially eliminating the possibility of a third catcher (Dioner Navarro) or a pinch-runner (Desmond Jennings).

Maddon, executive VP Andrew Friedman and the coaches will meet today to set up the rotation and bullpen staff. Actually two of them, because the composition will be different based on if they're facing the Rangers or Twins.

"A lot has to do with who we're going to play," Maddon said. "Both the way we handle our starters and relievers, there's a bearing on it."

The differences could be in the order the starters are used, whether the starter who doesn't make the rotation is added to the bullpen and whether Jake McGee is included as a second left-hander.

TRIPLE TIME: The Rays were an apparent bad call from turning the third triple play in franchise history.

The Royals had men on first and second in the first when Billy Butler grounded back to the mound. The Rays got the outs at second then first and appeared to have Gregor Blanco at the plate, but umpire James Hoye ruled him safe.

"I never tagged him, but he never touched the plate,'' C Kelly Shoppach said. "I was basically sitting on home plate, so I didn't think there was any way he touched the plate, but maybe he did.''

MISCELLANY: With Friday's loss, the Rays lost the chance to finish with a winning record against all AL opponents. … RHP Mike Ekstrom added another scoreless inning of relief work to run his streak to 13. … Rookie Jeremy Hellickson has about 60 friends and relatives in town from his native, and nearby, Iowa.

Tampa Bay Rays to prepare David Price for playoffs with relief stint, may give him shot at 20th win 10/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 2, 2010 1:45am]

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