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Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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It’s David Price time, from Rays ‘openers’ to rise of Blake Snell

BOSTON — David Price heard about the recent reunion of the Rays' 2008 American League championship club that he played a big role on as a small part of, and he had a few questions.

What players were there? How did it go? Did second baseman Akinori Iwamura, who fielded a grounder off a pitch Price threw for the final out, really come all the way from Japan?

And, most interesting, reflective of how big a highlight moment that still is to Price: "I wonder if he still has my baseball? He said he gave it to his mom, which I hope. I hope it's still somewhere.'' (Iwamura said he has it at a home he still keeps in the States.)

But the larger question didn't hit Price until a few days ago when his Red Sox team was in Philadelphia, where that Rays dream season came to a harsh end.

"We were leaving the clubhouse and one of the security guys said, 'I'll see you back here in October, just like in 2008.' And I said, 'I'm cool with that, but hopefully we can have a different outcome than we did then.'

"He's like, 'Can you believe that was 10 years ago?' "And I'm like, 'Wow, that was 10 years ago?' I'm like, 'No, I can't.' "

A lot has happened for Price, 32, since then.

He developed into one of the game's top starters, capped by winning the 2012 AL Cy Young Award. He helped pitch the Rays into the playoffs three more times while making four All-Star teams (and a fifth later). He was traded by the Rays to the Tigers in a 2014 deadline deal, then the next July by the Tigers to the Blue Jays. He signed a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox and made the requisite adjustment to pitching in the intense Boston market. He got married and had a son, Xavier.

As Price prepares for his 14th game against his former team Saturday, he shared thoughts on a variety of topics:

Chris Archer trade

Price said he wasn't surprised the Rays felt it finally was time to deal Archer, and he was impressed with the return from the Pirates, thinking highly of both pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows. As for Archer going through the trade process as Price did? "I was happy for him,'' Price said. "Not the fact that he got traded; solely for the fact that he doesn't have to think about that anymore. That's not something that's going to be in his mind. Then again, he's got a year left on his contract (and two option years), and he could be going through a similar situation because the Pirates kind of operate similar to the way Tampa operates.''

Jalen Beeks addition

Price said he's a big fan of Jalen Beeks, the lefty pitcher the Rays got from Boston in trade for Nathan Eovaldi. "I like everything about him,'' Price said. "When he got sent down (during spring training), I texted him and told him, "Dude, you're going to be up here, you're a big-leaguer. The way you carry yourself, the way you throw that baseball, everything about you to me just screams big-leaguer.'' Also, "He's quiet. When he speaks, you can tell there's thought behind it. In a sense he kind of reminds me of Archer — very well thought out, very well spoken, When Archer first came up, he didn't talk a whole lot.''

Rays using opener

At first, Price wasn't sure about the plan of starting a reliever and bringing in a starter. But after watching for a few weeks, he came around. "I get it,'' Price said. "You want to start off the game well and if your matchups say you're better off starting the opener to get three-four outs, I get it. I think more teams will start doing it.'' In fact, he even said he would be open to coming in after an opener himself if it matched up right, though it would have to be at the start of an inning. "You want to bring me in in the third or fourth, so be it. I can try and finish the game,'' he said. "And if I stink and go three innings and give up four and we score seven and I get a win for that? What? Are you kidding me?''

Blake Snell’s rise

Price had predicted stardom for Snell years ago and is pleased to see the Rays lefty doing so well and rewarded, eventually, with an All-Star berth, though he wasn't keen on him pitching more than an inning: "Thank goodness. The fact that he wasn't voted in by the players, that was bad.''

On playing in Boston

Now in his third season with the Sox, Price is feeling healthy and pitching well, 12-6, 3,75. And though he and the enveloping Boston media haven't always gotten along, Price said he has no issues, and no surprises, about playing in Boston, and it doesn't sound like he's going anywhere, even though he can opt out of his contract (and walk away from a guaranteed $127 million) after this season. "It's been what I thought it would be,'' he said "It's okay. I'm completely okay with it. I knew what I signed up for.''

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @[email protected]

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