09/16/11 7:31 PM ET
Rays' best friend: Astro a good luck charm
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Astro is the left-hander's pet French bulldog. On Aug. 21, the Rays had a giveaway in which Price was dressed in action hero tights and paired with a depiction of Astro.
Since then, Price has made a custom of building a makeshift dog house on the top of the Rays' dugout in which he houses one of the Astro figurines.
Thursday night at Fenway Park, Price constructed the house from a paper cup and put Astro inside with some sunflower seeds so he wouldn't go hungry.
The Rays are 15-10 since the unveiling of the Price/Astro figurines, which prompted the question to Price regarding whether Astro brought luck to the team.
"I think he does; we've been playing pretty well since [the giveaway]," Price said.
Price maintained that putting the figurine on the dugout is a proper way to pay homage to his best friend.
"He's always watching," said Price with a smile.
Price allowed that he is now fair game for pot shots.
"Oh yeah, people talk trash all the time, but that's all right," Price said.
Price said the fans behind the dugout took matters into their own hands Thursday night.
"They smashed [Astro and his house] last night," Price said. "I told them that was bad karma."
Based on the 9-2 Rays win, Price might have been right. And note to any fans contemplating a repeat performance, Price has a limitless supply of the Astro figurines.
Longoria has been on tear since June
BOSTON -- Evan Longoria went into the Rays' June 11 game against the Orioles with a .244 batting average, four home runs and 13 RBIs.
But the fortunes of the Rays third baseman began to change that day, when he went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Since then, Longoria leads the Majors with 75 RBIs in 85 games and leads the American League with 23 home runs.
Longoria had to deal with injuries in the early months of the season, but he fought through them. He entered Friday night's game hitting .240 with 27 home runs and 88 RBIs.
"No matter if you're hitting .300 with 20 home runs, whatever it is at that point, you always want more," said Longoria when asked what it was like to not be doing well nearly halfway through the season.
"If you're the kind of player that I like to think I am, you like to push yourself to do more, no matter what. Unless you're Albert Pujols every year, you pretty much are looking up at players and saying 'I need to do better, I need to be more like this guy or closer to this guy's numbers.' Of course there's times when you just know you have to pick it up."
Longoria also needs 10 RBIs to become just the 13th player (first third baseman) in Major League history to reach 100 home runs and 400 RBIs in his first four seasons. That list includes Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, along with active players Mark Teixeira, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.
Maddon happy with Rays' pitching depth
BOSTON -- The Rays are in the enviable position of having a stable of starting pitchers any team in the Major Leagues would be happy to have with James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis. Add to that list the up-and-comers Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Alex Torres and Chris Archer and it's clear Tampa Bay has perhaps more starting pitching depth than any team in the Major Leagues.
So the question begged to be asked of manager Joe Maddon: If the Rays have so much depth with their starting pitching, will Tampa Bay consider moving a starter or two to try and procure more offense?
"Of course, if you have a lot of something in an area you consider depth, that would be the area you would want to go to," Maddon said.
However, Maddon wasn't too sure about wanting to see any of the organization's starting pitchers go anywhere.
"Depth can go away quickly with injury, so you have to be careful what you do with that, too," Maddon said. "It's a nice little treasure chest to have, and you want to maintain it and be careful because it's not easy to acquire all of that. So, yes, it's nice to have that, and, yes, you'd like to think that it's deep, but that could go away in a hurry."
Maddon believes no organization can have enough good pitching.
"When you start the season you want five guys here," Maddon said. "You want at least the sixth guy at Triple-A, and if you can go seven deep and like it, that's pretty awesome. And that's rare."
Still, if the Rays could acquire a power hitter to put in the middle of the lineup, would they consider pulling the trigger on a big deal?
"You'd have to make your best choice," Maddon said. "And if that's what it's going to take, you may have to do something. But again, when it comes to depth in starting pitching, you have to be very careful. I don't like to use those words very often, because all of a sudden it goes away and then you don't have it any more."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.