SEATTLE — Tampa Bay Rays LHP David Price, who has made 160 major league starts, starts tonight for the first time at Safeco Park.
He has thrown bullpens at the stadium — “I like the bullpen mound,” he said — but has only been on the stadium mound to celebrate a victory.
Price said he wants to be near the mound after tonight’s game because that would be a good sign for the Rays. It could also means he’s corrected some of the flaws that have cropped up in his game lately, like his habit of giving up home runs.
“That’s got to stop,” he said.
Price has allowed nine home runs in his 53 2/3 innings. Only Jeremy Guthrie (11) of the Kansas City Royals and CC Sabathia (10) of the New York Yankees have allowed more.
Price, 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA in eight starts, said he is frustrated with how he’s pitched lately.
When asked Monday what he needs to do better, he said, “Just making pitches and bearing down when there are two outs and runners in scoring position. Making pitches, that’s what it boils down to. It doesn’t matter what the pitch selection is or where the players are on in the field. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you execute your pitch you’ll have a very high percentage of a positive outcome, and that’s what I want to get back to.”
Price said he wants to get back to how he pitched in 2012, the year he won 20 games and earned the American League Cy Young Award.
“I want the feeling like in 2012; when it was my turn to pitch we were going to win, period,” he said. “I might not get the win, but the Rays were going to get the win. That’s the feeling we need to have in this clubhouse.”
Manager Joe Maddon said he still feels that way on the days Price pitches.
“It’s not always going to be perfect. He’s the kind of guy who can get on a serious run,” Maddon said. “Remember the Cy Young year? Look at the (pitching) logs – seven innings, seven innings, seven innings, eight innings, seven innings, nine innings. He’s that guy, and I really believe you’re going to see that again.”
COBB GETTING CLOSER
RHP Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) took another step toward rejoining the rotation Monday when he threw 60 pitches during a simulated game in Port Charlotte.
Cobb told reporters in Port Charlotte that the session went well.
“Just making sure that everything is in line physically,” he said.
If Cobb feels well today, he will make a minor league rehab start Saturday. If all goes well Saturday, Cobb could rejoin the Rays next week.
“It’s possible,” Maddon said. “He’s throwing the ball real well.”
A RUN FOR AN OUT
LF Matt Joyce led the major leagues with seven sacrifice flies going into play Monday. The club record for a season is 12, set in 2010 by 2B Ben Zobrist.
“I love it,” Maddon said. “You want to score the run from third base with less than two outs and sacrifice flies work. I love it. A good team at-bat right there.”
RHP Heath Bell cleared waivers Monday and was released. The Rays have to pick up nearly $5 million of Bell’s contract. ... Going into Monday’s game, the Rays lead the majors in time of play, averaging 3 hours, 17 minutes, 45 seconds per game. Maddon is still sticking to his theory that the length of games is a product of the offense’s ability to work at-bats and see a lot of pitches, though he added, “We have a couple of pitchers who probably can be a little more time-efficient between pitches.”