09/13/08 1:00 PM ET
Price thrilled to join Rays
Lefty might start vs. Boston on Wednesday; Gomes recalled
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"I've played 'Grand Theft Auto' quite a bit," Price said. "So I'm familiar with the whole city."
Teasing aside, Price said he did not sleep well after receiving the news he would be joining the team Saturday. Just as well since he was not afforded the opportunity to sleep much anyway. He had to catch a 7 a.m. ET flight from Durham, after the Triple-A Bulls lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 20-2 in the Governors Cup on Friday night.
"I didn't get much sleep last night, but I feel good now," said Price, who could not hide his excitement about being in the Major Leagues.
Price, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes, arrived in New York in time to drop off their luggage at the team hotel and get to Yankee Stadium early.
"He'd never been here at all," Gomes said. "We got here early and I took him onto the field. He's taking pictures with his phone. It was awesome to see a guy who has that much money and talent yet still being so excited to be in the big leagues.
"... He was big-eyed. It's cool to ... see his little boy side. The game will definitely humble you in a hurry."
Price, 22, was chosen by the Rays as the first overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University. He impressed the Rays throughout Spring Training, finishing his spring with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances while retiring six of the seven hitters he faced, striking out three and hitting one. In the process, his fastball tipped 99 mph on several occasions.
He has experienced a meteoric rise in his first professional season. He went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts at Class A Vero Beach before getting moved to Double-A Montgomery, where he went 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA. At Durham, he went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts before going 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two playoff starts.
Going to the Minor Leagues "is part of a growing process," Price said. "It's something you've got to do. You've just got to experience it. It was kind of like college for me. ... Something I definitely needed and I'm glad I did it."
Despite all the speculation about when Price might join the Rays, he said he still was surprised when he finally got the news.
"It's never set in concrete until you get here," Price said. "So it was definitely a surprise."
Gomes believes Price can give the Rays a lift.
"I saw him throw some pretty lightning stuff," Gomes said. "Can it be polished? For sure. But any team could use him. With this team in the race, we can use 96-plus from the left side with a well-above-average slider and an awesome head on his shoulders. He loves to compete."
Price doesn't care if he's in the bullpen, as he just seemed happy to be in the big leagues.
"I'll be the batboy," he said. "It doesn't matter to me."
Joe Maddon said he is not concerned with throwing Price into the fire of a pennant race.
"I'm OK with pressure-packed with him," Maddon said.
The Rays manager explained that the bullpen was rested entering the first game of Saturday's doubleheader and that Price's addition gave them some depth for what could be a long day.
"By having him here, it permits us to balance out both games better," Maddon said. "My bigger concern is to get him loose [when he does pitch], get him ready -- make sure he has enough time."
If Matt Garza does not start Wednesday against the Red Sox on short rest, Maddon said Price could be used as a spot starter for that game.
"He is an option," Maddon said. "But we'll decide that post today. By Monday we'll obviously know. We want to see how today plays out."
Price smiled when asked if would like to make his first Major League start Wednesday.
"That would be nice," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.