4/6/2013 12:20 P.M. ET
Rays confident as starters go deep into games
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Each Rays starter has pitched six-plus innings in the team's first four games. If the team is to compensate for the loss of James Shields this season -- meaning his 200-plus innings every year -- all of the starters will have to step up. To that end, the group is off to a good start.
"It's good to see our starters do what we've done so far, innings wise," David Price said. "But we still want to get better. You know, Matt Moore throwing the ball the way he did [Friday night] gives us that feeling in the locker room. It gives a feeling to the starting pitchers. It's kind of back to the Ray way, and that's what we were talking about.
"[The staff] just put up nine zeroes and [had] a starter go out there and give us a quality outing the way he did. We're not sputtering, but we hadn't had a starting pitcher go out there and give us what we need to see. And that's what he was able to do yesterday. And that's the first game of the series, and that's very big for us.
Price presented with AL Cy Young Award
ST. PETERSBURG -- Prior to Saturday night's Rays-Indians game, David Price was presented with his 2012 American League Cy Young Award.
In addition, the first 20,000 fans to enter Tropicana Field received a David Price Cy Young Figurine.
Price initially received the trophy at the New York BBWAA dinner in January.
"I don't look at [Saturday night] as being for me," Price said. "This is for the fans. This is a chance for them to come out and be a part of this ceremony and get a figurine, and stuff like that. The Rays obviously did this for me, and what we accomplished last year as a team. And being able to win that Cy Young Award, but more or less it's for the fans."
To win the award, Price edged out Detroit's Justin Verlander 153-149 in the voting -- the closest election since the BBWAA permitted voting for more than one pitcher in 1970. Rays manager Joe Maddon touted his guy to win the award last year on many occasions, so he was asked to make one final commentary about Price winning the award.
"Talk about consistency -- seven innings, seven innings, seven innings, the whole time," Maddon said. "And with a really good pitch number, giving us a chance to win all of those games. He was really disgustingly consistent last year. Part of that was the fact he really had command of his fastball. He has other weapons now, but I really think he could throw 80 to 90 percent fastball in a game and win. I really do. That's what he learned last year."
Maddon pointed out that beyond Price's physical gifts, "there's that competitive thing about him also."
"He does not want to be good, he wants to be great," Maddon said. "And I love him for that. I think he handles it in the right way.
"When he's not playing, when he's not pitching, he's like the best cheerleader in this dugout. Postgame [celebration after] a win, he's probably the funniest guy up there. Then when it's time to focus, he does. I like the balance of how he does things."
Maddon unhappy about Longoria plunking
ST. PETERSBURG -- Indians reliever Cody Allen hit Evan Longoria with a pitch in his left buttocks in the seventh inning, prompting Rays manager Joe Maddon to cry foul.
Maddon did not actually see the pitch strike the Rays All-Star third baseman, but he had a pretty good idea about what happened.
"I was actually cleaning my glasses at the time, so I didn't see it first-hand," Maddon said. "So then I heard about it, and it's pretty much a consensus opinion that he did it intentionally. However, I'll say one thing, unequivocally, I know it did not come from Tito [Terry Francona]. He would not do that."
There was some question regarding whether the pitch had been in response to Desmond Jennings running over Indians catcher Lou Marson.
"I know that it was a clean baseball play that did not deserve that kind of retaliation," Maddon said. "The concern that they should have over there is that that's how you get players hurt on your team. For me, it had to come from one of the players, and I would absolutely point to their bullpen."
Niemann to get second opinion; Scott feeling healthy
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeff Niemann (right shoulder soreness) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday night. Now the right-hander is scheduled to accompany the team to Texas to have a second opinion on his shoulder.
"I'm sure there's going to be tests involved to draw some conclusions," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But that's where it's at right now."
Meanwhile, Luke Scott (right calf strain) said he ran on the underwater treadmill and he has hit off a tee the past two days.
"I'm feeling good," Scott said.
• Baltimore's hot-hitting Chris Davis continued his torrid pace Friday night when he hit a grand slam against the Twins. Davis entered Saturday's action with 16 RBIs in his first four games, which projects to 648 RBIs this season. That would far exceed Hack Wilson's single-season record of 191, a mark the Cubs Hall of Fame slugger reached in 1930. Rays manager Joe Maddon smiled when asked if Davis can get 500 RBIs this season.
"Absolutely. I've got him hitting 73 homers, the whole thing," Maddon said. "Hack's squirming right now."
• Top prospect Wil Myers made his debut in the Rays' organization Friday night, batting third and playing right field for Triple-A Durham in their 11-2 win at Norfolk in the season opener. He went 1-for-4 with two RBIs, including an RBI double in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth; Chris Archer earned the win for the Bulls.
• Evan Longoria filmed a PSA at Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon for Hillsborough County's summer reading program.
• Maddon was asked about Stephen Vogt, who was traded by Tampa Bay to Oakland on Friday. The Rays manager pointed out that Vogt can hit and can play several positions.
"A great guy," Maddon added.
• Entering Saturday night's game, the Rays had struck out just 20 times through four games. At the same point last season, the Rays had struck out 35 times.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.