5/4/2013 9:35 P.M. ET
Maddon looking for McGee's velocity to rise
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- Hard-throwing Rays reliever Jake McGee has experienced a slow start to his 2013 season, as he tries to replicate a stunning 2012 campaign. But manager Joe Maddon isn't seeking a new look from the southpaw.
After going 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 73 strikeouts versus only 11 walks (four intentional) in 69 games and 55 innings for the Rays last year, McGee, 26, owned a 10.24 ERA in 12 appearances this season entering Saturday, including six runs on 10 hits and five walks in his last five appearances spanning 4 1/3 innings.
On Friday night, McGee pitched during a critical eighth inning in a tie game the Rays won, 7-4, in 10 innings, allowing two hits and intentionally walking pinch-hitter Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases before striking out Eric Young Jr. and giving way to Brandon Gomes, who struck out Jordan Pacheco to end the inning without any damage.
"Jake got us through that inning," Maddon said. "He didn't complete that inning, but got a big punchout to keep that runner on third base. He should feel good about himself."
McGee mixed in a new slider, which crosses the plate at 89 mph and serves like a changeup when used off his 95-98 mph fastball, but Maddon isn't sold on the need for a secondary pitch in McGee's case.
"I think that's overstated," Maddon said. "Everybody keeps talking about that. Last year, he pretty much went wall-to-wall with the fastball. I really believe that he just needs to get his velocity back where it had been, which it's in there, and then the location of his fastball. Those are the two biggest items with Jake that I believe to this point have been off."
"When you see a guy struggling -- and again, he hasn't been pummeled -- I don't want him to get it in his head that he has to do something different, when he doesn't. He has to just be Jake. If he wants to continue to work on that other pitch, I'm fine with that. But his success is always going to be routed in him throwing a good fastball that rides, and he throws it where he wants to. To try to recreate himself right now, I think would be not very wise. I disagree with that 100 percent."
Price's parents make Denver a Segway stop
DENVER -- While reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price was eager to reacquaint himself with Coors Field on Saturday, his parents took advantage of the road trip by getting to know downtown Denver through a growing tradition they're establishing when they travel to see their son.
"Every city they go to, they go on a Segway tour," Price said. "They wear helmets, the whole deal. It really caught me off-guard the first time they did it. I got the picture of my parents standing on the Segways with their helmets. I do feel like you have to have some sort of coordination in order to be able to do that. My parents were both very athletic whenever they were young, but that was multiple years ago, and I haven't seen them do a whole lot of athletic things in the past."
Price said it was the seventh Segway tour his parents have taken in big league cities where he's pitching, and he's even considering getting them a Segway, a two-wheeled self-balancing personal transport, after Royals ace James Shields encouraged him to get them a pair when the Rays saw their old teammate in Kansas City earlier in the week.
Shields recently purchased one for his new teammate, Jeremy Guthrie, who traded his uniform number for a new Segway. Price took it for a ride at Kauffman Stadium, and fared a bit better than his first time riding the modern device.
"I hopped on one in the Yankees' tunnel, when you go downstairs and they have two Segways for the police officers," Price said. "I guess they feel super safe there, so they left the keys in. I looked at it and the lights were flashing green, so I knew that meant it was on.
"It was parked about [a foot] from the wall. I hopped on, and leaned forward a little bit and it just crashed right into the wall. I hopped off, and a couple of the workers there, they saw me, and they were dying laughing."
Price's only reservation about providing a pair for his parents was the possibility of interrupting their exercise regimen.
"My dad walks 10 miles a day," Price said. "They're so big into exercising right now, because my dad got taken off his diabetes medicine and it's a big thing for him to be able to work his body back into the shape that he needs to be -- to be able to clear to be off all his medicines. He's really pumped about that, and I don't want to buy him a Segway and then he doesn't walk any more he's just riding a Segway."
Cobb eager to take first swings at Coors
DENVER -- Though he's in his third big league season, Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb's head is spinning with thoughts of a Major League milestone he'll pass when he starts Sunday's series finale with the Rockies.
He'll have the chance to do something he hasn't done in a baseball game since he was a senior at Vero Beach High School in Florida: swing a bat.
"I'm pretty excited," Cobb said of the opportunity that has eluded him through his first two years in the American League. "I've got to contain myself a little bit and not focus too much on the hitting part of things. Remember, I got a game to pitch, too. I'm very excited, I've been taking extra BP. I have a lot of swings running through my head where it's usually pitching mechanics. I'll make sure to get my mind right before I step on the mound."
Cobb described himself as a "three-hole" hitter in high school, hitting for average and power and comparing himself to Evan Longoria.
"I like to think of myself as Longo," Cobb said. "I had a decent average. I think I had three or four home runs, nothing to talk about. I probably had a .350-to-.400 average."
Cobb was happy to see Friday's starter Matt Moore get the green light to swing in two at-bats with men on base and none out in the series opener, a sign of confidence from manager Joe Maddon.
"It depends on who my pitcher is and who their pitcher is," Maddon said. "If I think our pitcher who's hitting can handle their pitcher, then I'll let him swing. If I don't think that they can, based on what I'm seeing, then we're apt to try to bunt."
On Friday, the Rockies had Jeff Francis on the mound, and with a fastball topping in the mid-to-upper 80s, Maddon liked the matchup with Moore, who moved the runner both times with infield grounders.
"You got a good athlete in Matty Moore -- he can hit," Maddon said. "If Francis had made a mistake there, I could see a double going down that right-field line, too. In [Coors Field], it's hard to just play for the one-run victory early in the game. I learned that lesson many years ago. So I don't even want us to think about that. We have pitchers on this team that are offensively challenged that I would have had bunting right there, absolutely. But if the guy's got some ability, we'll let him hit."
Asked if he'll be borrowing a bat from one of the position players, Cobb seemed taken aback.
"I've got my own," Cobb said. "It's the big leagues. It's got my name on it and everything."
• The Rays scored seven runs in the series opener against the Rockies on Friday, which was seven runs more than the rest of the American Least East combined. Every other team in the division was shut out on Friday, with the Red Sox losing, 7-0, at Texas, the Orioles falling, 4-0, against the Angels, the Yankees taking a 2-0 loss at home against the A's, and the Blue Jays succumbing to the Mariners, 4-0, in Toronto.
It's the first time four AL East teams have been blanked on the same day since the realigned divisions were established in 1994, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
• With a pair of home runs from Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson Friday night, the Rays improved their club record streak of consecutive games with homers to 17. The Major League record of 27 was set by the Rangers from Aug. 1 to Sept. 9, 2002, and the Rays' streak was the third-longest in the last five years. Tampa Bay led the Majors with 31 homers, nine more than the closest American League team, entering play on Saturday.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.