PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Man’s best friend has a home in the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse, and he has become quite the star.
Meet Astro, Rays left-hander David Price’s 3-year-old French bulldog. He has entertained fans, kids and teammates wherever the defending American League Cy Young Award winner leads.
The canine companion was back to snatching the spotlight in front of cameras Wednesday, when he made a cameo appearance in a tiny Rays No. 14 jersey during Tampa Bay’s spring training session at Charlotte Sports Park.
“Everybody wants to interview Astro,” Price told FOXSportsFlorida.com. “Everybody thinks he talks. They want to get him on camera … It’s cool. He enjoys it. I don’t think he really understands what’s all going on, but he enjoys being around all the people. He has a very good personality, so he’s very good with people.”
Astro’s fame goes beyond playing fetch with one of the best arms in baseball, though. In December, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn awarded the dog a small set of keys to the city for support during the Rays’ 2012 season, one in which Astro’s master finished a career-best 20-5 with a career-low 2.56 ERA (Not to be left out, Price also received a larger set of keys that day).
Astro’s stardom even extends online. There’s a Twitter account (@Astro_DPsDog) devoted to his pursuits. Price doesn’t operate it and is uncertain who does, but a bio includes the line, “Trying to take the world by storm. Loved by all.”
Within Tampa Bay’s clubhouse, it’s hard to argue against the claim.
“I don’t know who it is, but they do a good job with it, so I just let them keep doing it,” Price said. “They don’t tweet bad stuff. It’s pretty funny what they do. Everybody thinks I run Astro’s Twitter, which is not true.”
Price said he has brought Astro to the Rays’ clubhouse since 2010. The dog has become a favorite among kids of coaches and teammates, and the pitcher credits manager Joe Maddon’s accepting style for allowing the pet to roam the area.
Price and Astro have a close relationship, as you might expect. The pitcher praises the dog’s personality — “I always feel like he’s in a good mood,” Price said — for allowing him to embrace a public life.
The two take part in typical activities when cameras are away: Fetch, tug-of-war, napping together. They enjoy a tight bond.
“He’s just a big ol’ kid,” Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth said of Price. “He’s an awesome guy, an awesome teammate. He has fun on the field, which everybody should do … It works for him, and he has fun.”
Added reliever Jake McGee: “I’ve seen [Astro] around here and there. He brings him in the field in the offseason … He seems like he’s always around.
“[Price] likes dogs, and it’s like his best friend, you know? It’s always good to have a companion like that.”
That companion has become a Rays’ fascination. Man’s best friend has a home in spring training, which is just fine by Price.