ST. PETERSBURG — Though LHP David Price will not make his scheduled start tonight due to general shoulder soreness, both he and the Rays say it is precautionary and he will take his usual turn next weekend in New York.
The team is confident rookie RHP Chris Archer, recalled Friday, will perform well in Price's place against the Rangers.
Price said he was caught off guard Monday, the day after his last start in Toronto, when he experienced shoulder soreness for the first time in his life.
"I didn't know what was going on," he said.
But Price, 27, said he and the Rays were proactive and "very cautious" with it. They got the shoulder checked out by team orthopedist Koco Eaton and have been encouraged with how it has responded. Price played catch Friday and said he felt good, plans to throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday and will be ready to pitch in the Yankees series next weekend.
Price, an AL Cy Young Award candidate who leads the league with 17 wins, said "it stinks" he will miss a start due to injury for the first time. He wanted to be there for his team and was eager to face the Rangers, a team he has struggled against in his career.
But he said it might be a "blessing in disguise," as he hopes to be pitching late into October in the playoffs, and the rest could be coming at a good time.
"I've never been through anything like this before, so it's something that kind of shocked me at first," Price said. "But we've taken good care of it the last couple days, and it feels good now."
STEPPING IN: Archer had a fitting way to describe the past few days, "It was a little crazy."
The 23-year-old, making his third big-league start tonight, knew the Rays were planning to call him up this month to serve as a spot starter, especially with RHP Alex Cobb having his workload monitored and RHP Jeff Niemann injured. He just didn't know it'd be this soon.
To keep Archer stretched out when Triple-A Durham's season ended, the Rays had sent him to Double-A Montgomery this week, getting minor league baseball's approval to do so, and he was scheduled to start Thursday for the Biscuits in the playoffs.
Because of Price's sore shoulder, Archer's plans changed, and he was in Tampa by midnight Thursday, having sat through a two-hour flight delay on a runway in Mobile, Ala. He said his parents plan to arrive from Raleigh, N.C., to watch tonight's start, his Tropicana Field debut.
"Anytime you get the opportunity to take the ball in the big leagues, it's super exciting," Archer said. "I'm trying not to get too overwhelmed."
Archer impressed the Rays with his pitching and poise in a two-start stint in June, going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA. He then went back to Durham and got on a hot streak, going 3-1 with a 1.92 ERA over his final 11 starts.
"It was both coming up here and knowing that I can compete that helped me pitch with more confidence down there," Archer said. "But I think a lot of things came together whenever I got here."
Manager Joe Maddon said Archer's schedule isn't set yet after tonight, but he's looking forward to seeing the rookie. "As we move to this latter part of the month, different things can happen," Maddon said. "If he's well and he's able to hold his own up here, who knows how he's going to be able to help us down the road? It's the right time to try it out."
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LINING UP: Evan Longoria returned to third base after serving as DH the previous two games. C Chris Gimenez made another start behind the plate, with Maddon liking how he fit with RHP Jeremy Hellickson and against LHP Derek Holland. "I don't think it's a stretch putting him into this moment and him having a hard time dealing with it emotionally," Maddon said. "I think he's fine."