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Rays ace Price finding comfort level

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Published:   |   Updated: May 17, 2014 at 10:07 PM

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— On Friday night, David Price milked a pair of cows behind home plate at Angel Stadium.

On Saturday morning, Price toured the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.

Sunday he will cap a busy weekend in Southern California by pitching the finale of this four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.

The game also caps a seven-game, two-city road trip that has been both good and bad for the Rays. One of the good moments happened in Seattle during the second night of the series against the Mariners when Price tossed his second complete game of the season in a 2-1 win that included a two-run, ninth-inning rally off former Rays closer Fernando Rodney.

Wearing his pants legs high and striped socks borrowed from Chris Archer, Price turned in a performance reminiscent of 2012, when he won 20 games and the AL Cy Young Award. He did that by throwing mostly fastballs and throwing them in the mid-90s.

It was a welcomed sight for Rays manager Joe Maddon, who wants to see Price be more aggressive with his fastball.

“In general I think a lot of our guys more recently are throwing their fastball more,” Maddon said. “Put it this way: We’ve gotten more aggressive with it, more convicted with it, and we’re throwing it in better spots and that’s what he did last time out.”

Before Tuesday’s start, Price watched video of himself throwing a complete game against the Boston Red Sox late in the 2012 season.

After the game Price said he felt like his old self, like he did in 2012.

“Command the zone and executing pitches. That’s what I did a very good job of in Seattle,” Price said. “I was ahead, first-pitch strikes. I’ve commanded the zone, I felt like, for the entire year, but I did it with what I thought was better stuff in Seattle.”

He said he made a few adjustments in his game. Mental? Physical?

“It’s not physical at all,” Price said. “I felt good pretty much all year long, so it’s being in that right mindset, just executing pitches. There is not a wrong pitch for me to throw if I’m executing more pitches. I was picking up my target and hitting it.”

Price pitched like that last season when he returned from the disabled list. He got away from that, though, earlier this season.

The question is why? Why would a pitcher who has had so much success go away from what was working?

“It’s like anything else, you’re still learning. You’re still learning what you do well and how do you do it. It’s an evolution,” Maddon said.

“He’s still trying to figure himself out, and maybe taught himself a lesson (in his previous start). There are other things, little nuances within his game I don’t want to get too specific about that showed up (in Seattle) that I thought were good and him and (pitching coach Jim Hickey) had been working on, so I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things.”

 

rmooney@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7227

Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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