05/03/2013 9:56 PM ET
Maddon, Price recall fond Colorado memories
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- It felt like a homecoming of sorts for manager Joe Maddon and Cy Young Award winner David Price as they opened a three-game set in Colorado Friday, with Price salivating over the chance to take batting practice in the Mile High City and Maddon greeting friends who helped give him his start in baseball over 35 years earlier.
"Love this part of the world," Maddon said Friday. "This is how I got my break coming out here in 1975." Maddon played for the Boulder Collegiates, a semi-pro team that featured the likes of Tony Gwynn, Joe Carter and Mark Langston in his later years when he was a player-coach with the club.
"We won the national championship in Wichita, Kansas," Maddon recalled. "That's how I got signed. I would not have been signed had I not gone to Boulder in 1975. That's another do-over. If you could hang out in Boulder in 1975 again, you would do that in a heartbeat."
For Price, he'd already been pitching in the Majors for four months in 2009 when he first came to Colorado to face the Rockies, but it was his first chance to hit, and he knocked a single against Aaron Cook, the Rockies all-time winningest pitcher.
"Michel Hernandez just got on base with two outs, I'm pretty sure it was in the third inning," Price said. "I hit a high chopper over Aaron Cook's head. He was a sinkerballer throwing 93, 95, so it was a win in itself just putting the bat on the ball. Troy Tulowitzki came in, I had Michel Hernandez running very hard to second base, I didn't say very fast, but he was running very hard and Tulo kind of bobbled it a little. He was going to flip it to second for the third out, but he couldn't get the ball out of his glove, so he made the throw to first, and I think I ran like a 3.7 to first base. I got a knock and I was hitting 1.000."
He has a couple souvenirs from the game, including the actual ball from his first hit and a fake ball that James Shields marked up for him, writing "First hit off of Dane Cook at Mile High Stadium, ran a 4.0 flat to first base," Price recalled. "He wrote a whole bunch of weird stuff on there, so it was pretty funny."
Friends of Price's parents were also at the game and made a commemorative mug for him.
"They took pictures of me pitching, took pitchers of me hitting, and then made a coffee mug with three pictures on it, one of me standing in the box, one of me at first base smiling extremely big, and then a shot of the scoreboard, where it said 'Price 1.000,'" he said. "At that point, I was one of the best hitters in the league."
Duncan outrighted to Triple-A Durham
DENVER -- Left fielder Shelley Duncan was outrighted to Triple-A Durham Friday, and the 33-year-old accepted the assignment.
Duncan was designated for assignment Tuesday after a .182 (10-for-55) start to his season with two home runs and six RBIs in 20 games.
Duncan was in his first year with the Rays, having made the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training. He previously played in parts of three seasons each for the Yankees and Indians and has posted a .226 average with 43 homers and 144 RBIs in 330 games through 2013.
Duncan's move off the Major League roster made room for Luke Scott's return from the disabled list after missing the first 29 days of the season with a right calf strain.
Scott, Rays look to adjust to NL rules in Colorado
DENVER -- It took Luke Scott all of one game to warm up after starting the season on the disabled list with a strained right calf. He was 0-for-3 in his debut Tuesday, then went 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs, two RBIs and a walk on Wednesday, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
But no sooner did Scott come off the DL than the Rays went to the NL to start an Interleague matchup with a three-game set against the Rockies.
"He's swinging the bat really well," manager Joe Maddon said before Friday's series opener. "I talked with him, and he should be getting some fly balls in left field and some ground balls at first. Definitely be involved in pinch-hitting and possibly a double-switch maneuver. But he did look pretty darn good those last couple games in Kansas City."
The Rays play 20 Interleague games this year, spread out between Friday in Colorado and mid-August in Los Angeles, the result of each league now having 15 teams, an odd number forcing constant Interleague Play following Houston's move to the AL.
"It was more of a block before," Maddon said. "Now it's not a block, it's just going to pop. I don't know how I feel about it yet, I'd have to wait until the end of the season. It's just awkward having to get, all of a sudden, your pitcher's got to play. [Pitching coach] Jim Hickey does a great job of preparing them offensively and mentally about running the bases and different things like that. Our guys are ready to do this, but nevertheless, it's still awkward. I always believe that the National League should have an advantage when it goes back and forth, because all they have to do is add a hitter to the game, whereas we have to permit our pitchers to hit, and also to play a different kind of game mentally, too."
Despite feeling the inherent disadvantage of a tougher adaptation for AL teams in NL parks, Maddon relishes the additional challenge of managing without a DH.
"We spend a lot of time thinking about it," Maddon said. " We do a lot of stuff in an American League game that'd be similar. There will be times we pull our DH in the game and then go right into the National League rules at that point. We do a lot of maneuvering because that's who we are. A lot of match-ups with right vs. left, etc. But there's still a difference about where you always have to keep track of that pitcher. Boom, boom, boom. That's the one that's different. When you come here, you have to keep track of that pitcher constantly."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.