“It's going to be good to get out there and face major-league hitters in a major-league venue,” Price said before Friday's game with the Tigers. “It's been quite a while, and I'm ready to get out there.”
Price, on the disabled list since May 16 with a left triceps strain, was scheduled to pitch one more minor-league rehab start for Single-A Charlotte, one where he would get his pitch count up to 90.
“He's ready to go. We felt that pretty strongly,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He feels very good. There was no reason to have him throw those 90 pitches in Port Charlotte, just have him do it for us. He's adamant that he felt great. The medical staff feels good about it, so let's do it with us.”
Price will get three starts before the All-Star break and will start the first game after the break against the Blue Jays in Toronto that starts a 10-game road trip through Toronto, Boston and New York.
Price was 1-4 with a 5.24 in nine starts before the injury. Maddon would like Price to approach his return as if he's beginning a new season.
“That's not a bad thought,” Maddon said. “Just go out there and almost start all over again. It was not like he had been throwing the ball badly, he had not. The results were just not there overall.”
In addition to returning to the rotation, Price said he's happy to be back because it means he can travel with the team.
“I miss these guys as well,” he said. “I'm constantly Facetime-ing (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) or one of the trainers during the game so I can give somebody a high-five or tell somebody 'Good job' or how much I like (Evan Longoria's) new haircut, stuff like that. I'm watching the games. I'm still complaining about stuff that I see during the games and texting all the guys. I haven't been with the team — but I have been — but it'll be good to be in the dugout.”
The rest of the rotation
Maddon said LHP Matt Moore, Price and RHP Roberto Hernandez will start the first three games in Houston. The Game 4 starter will be either RHP Alex Colome, who started Friday against the Tigers, or RHP Chris Archer, who starts tonight.
Maddon downplayed the thought that the two rookies were in a pitch-off for the final spot in the rotation.
“I think the body of work has been pretty close to this point,” Maddon said. “Whatever we decide to do is going to be tough.
“I like what both of them have been doing. I honestly don't have a strong opinion right now. We just discussed that. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. I think both these young guys have represented themselves well.”
Pushing Hernandez back to Wednesday means he will have seven days of rest between starts.
“I don't know if that's good or bad,” Maddon said. “He's pitched a lot. He's thrown a lot of pitches. But a guy like him can handle it.”
Archer not looking ahead
Archer said he's not concerned about keeping his job in the rotation. He's more focused on picking up where he left off in his previous start, when he held the Yankees to one hit in a 3-1 victory in New York.
Archer said he worked on a few things with pitching coach Jim Hickey before that start. He basically stays above the rubber longer before making his move to the plate. This allows him to get his arm out in front and enables him to keep all his pitches down in the strike zone.
Archer said he reminds himself of this by saying, “Up, down, out. Up with your leg, down and out. Instead of up and out. So instead of rushing to the plate, just staying strong over my back leg, letting my front side come down and now straight to the plate.”
The Rays and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund are collecting baseball equipment this series to benefit MacDill Youth Sports. … Former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain will sign autographs today and Sunday at the Ted Williams Museum.
Rays notes: Price to return against Astros