Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Price primed and ready to go
ST. PETERSBURG - LHP
David Price, who makes the second Opening Day start of this career this afternoon when he faces the Orioles, said he could feel the butterflies in his stomach as he talked to the media Monday morning.
“If you can’t get butterflies when you come out to a major-league game on Opening Day, there’s probably something wrong with you,” he said.
Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner who was 20-5 last year with a league-low 2.56 ERA, took the decision in the Rays’ 4-1 loss to the Orioles during the 2011 season opener.
This will be the 74th time the reigning Cy Young Award winner starts on Opening Day. Combined, they are 32-18 with 23 no-decisions.
Price said he would like to have this role every season during his career, especially when he’s also pitching the home opener. “It is very special,” Price said. “It’s the first day for us and we’re obviously at home, so we get to take the field first and we get to throw the first pitch, and we get to set our own tone. So it’s good. We enjoy it and we’re looking forward to it.” Today’s lineup The injury to DH Luke Scott made for some quick lineup adjustments.
Kelly Johnson replaces Scott at DH, because manager Joe Maddon wants a left-handed bat against Orioles right-handed starter Jason Hammel.
“It is my introduction to Joe Maddon’s lineup,” Johnson said. “I’m in the lineup. That’s where I want to be. I’ll be playing a lot more games in the field than I will be DH-ing. That’s the way it laid out with Luke getting hurt.”
Johnson as the DH moves Ben Zobrist from right field to second base. Sam Fuld joins the lineup as the right fielder. Maddon said he did that to keep Matt Joyce in left.
Welcome back, Shelley 1B/OF Shelley Duncan was packing his truck Sunday afternoon for the move to Durham, N.C., and the beginning of the Triple-A Bulls season when Chaim Bloom, the Rays’ director of baseball operations, called and told Duncan he was being added to the roster in place of the injured Scott.
“Pleasantly surprised,” Duncan said.
He and his wife, Elyse, and their twin sons already would have been on the road if not for the fact they had their two dogs in Camp Bow Wow in Sarasota, and they couldn’t pick them up until after 4 p.m.
“The dogs saved us from a long drive,” Duncan said of Scrappy and Tuerto.
Duncan is not in today’s lineup but should be the designated hitter Wednesday against Baltimore left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
“Just looking at what we may need, with the right-handed bat versus the left-handed pitcher, the power, he can put the ball in the gap or in the seats,” Maddon said when asked why Duncan was tapped to replace Scott. “I think he’s become a better first baseman also, when you want to give James (Loney) a day off, it’s possible. There’s a lot of things he can do, plus I just think he’s really good on the team, too.”
Bang a gong The gong, which now sits along the back wall on the foul side of the right-field foul pole, was tested Monday afternoon after the Orioles completed their workout.
It will be banged when the Rays take the field to the T.Rex hit, “Bang a Gong.” The Rays have yet to announce who will do the banging.
It also could be the target for closer Fernando Rodney’s arrows after he saves a home game.
Noteworthy Today’s game is sold out, marking the eighth straight year the Rays have sold out the home opener. … The Rays will offer the K-9 section special for Sunday’s game when Price is scheduled to pitch again. … The Rays and Orioles will honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting with patches on their jerseys. … For every home run 3B Evan Longoria hits this season, Bright House Sports Network, the Rays and Ducky’s Sports Lounge will each donate $100 to the Pet Pal Animal Shelter, a no-kill, nonprofit shelter in St. Petersburg.