While the return to Tropicana Field of David Price will understandably command a lot of attention, there's more than that to the Tampa Bay Rays' three-game series with the Detroit Tigers which begins Tuesday night.
Former Rays pitcher David Price is scheduled to take the mound Thursday against Alex Cobb.
Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images North America
By Andrew Astleford
The Tampa Bay Rays insist they have moved on. "Moving on" is hard to quantify, but baseball has a way of passing time in a methodical way unlike any other sport. There's always another day, another challenge, another night in a 162-game grind that tests mental and physical limits.
Few things are like it. Certainly not the NFL, and the NBA season lasts about half as long. Same with the NHL. Baseball is a beast in a class of its own.
David Price's trade to the Detroit Tigers happened July 31. He'll be back at Tropicana Field from Tuesday through Thursday, and he'll be asked many things about his six-plus seasons in a Rays uniform and what has come after it: Memories, highlights, thoughts on his new chapter wearing the Old English D.
This will be a time to look back on all the strikeouts, all the winning. This will be a time to mark distance as well, that space already created between his former and current lives in a short time away. A transition has happened.
July 31 wasn't long ago, but in baseball life, it seems like more. The area in front of one of Price's old lockers in the Rays clubhouse has transformed into a makeshift basketball court. The small hoop affixed to the top of the stall has the feel of a vine growing over an abandoned car. Life has moved on for everyone involved, as it should. August is no time to sulk because of front-office choices made in July.
Still, movement has occurred. Both Price and left-hander Drew Smyly have made three starts with their new teams. On Sunday, right-hander Chris Archer said everyone in Tampa Bay's clubhouse is beyond the "weird factor" of the trade, though it's hard to believe Archer and everyone else in the Rays' rotation won't allow themselves a few glances back the next three days. Reflection is natural.
Yes, it will be strange seeing Price in another uniform at Tropicana Field for the first time, just as it was with Matt Garza and James Shields before him. Moving on is a necessary part of the baseball existence. It's necessary after team slumps and personal skids, after losing streaks and the first defeat following a string of consecutive victories. Short memories are required to survive.
Still, Price gave the Rays plenty to remember this season and the six before it. Moving on can be hard.
Here's a look at the upcoming Rays-Tigers series ...
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
August 19 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.) Max Scherzer (14-4, 2.98 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (8-6, 3.24 ERA)
August 20 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.) Rick Porcello (13-8, 3.28 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (9-9, 3.82 ERA)
August 21 (Sun Sports -- pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.) David Price (12-8, 3.12 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.19 ERA)
Victor Martinez (Tigers): He hit .400 (8 for 20) with five RBI in six games from Aug. 12-17. He had three multi-hit contests in the span, including going 3 for 4 with three RBI in a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 13. He's hitting .326 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI this season.
Evan Longoria (Rays): He hit .296 (8 for 27) with one home run and six RBI in six games from Aug. 12-17. He had two multi-hit contests in the span, part of a .243 batting average with three home runs and 13 RBI in August. He's hitting .253 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI this season.
Ezequiel Carrera (Tigers): He hit .111 (2 for 18) with five strikeouts in five games from Aug. 12-17. He had three contests without a hit in the span. He's hitting .194 this season.
Kevin Kiermaier (Rays): He hit .100 (2 for 20) with seven strikeouts in six games from Aug. 12-17. He went hitless four times in the span. He's hitting .268 with nine home runs and 29 RBI this season.
4: Teams in major-league history that have reached a .500 record after falling 18 games below. The Rays became the latest with a 5-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, joining the 1899 Louisville Colonels, 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays and 2006 Florida Marlins as the squads to accomplish the feat.
1: Starts at Tropicana Field made by Smyly as a member of the Rays, the first coming Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees. He allowed two runs, four hits and struck out four in seven innings.
12: Consecutive games that Rays pitching allowed three runs or fewer before Tampa Bay lost 4-2 Sunday to the Yankees. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed three runs and four hits in five innings, and reliever Joel Peralta allowed one run and two hits in one inning during the defeat.
"The attitude in here is there's no quit. It's kind of been an organizational philosophy for the past years where guys just never give up. You saw it in 2011 with (Game No.) 162 and even years after that, where for some reason, we keep digging ourselves holes but we never quit. ... Guys don't believe in the fact that we're a bad team." -- Right-hander Alex Cobb, following the Rays' victory Friday to become the fourth team to reach .500 (61-61) after falling 18 games below. They were a season-worst 24-42 after a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 10.
"Yeah it's great. It's great that it's sold out. And I understand that the people like Derek Jeter. But you've got to come out and root for the Rays, too, you understand. I mean, I totally understand what's going on. But I'm not going to sit here and defend all of that noise in the Yankees' favor in our ballpark. I'm not going to defend that. So we're going to come out and root for the Rays. We'd appreciate that." -- Manager Joe Maddon, after the Rays' loss Saturday. A large New York contingent was supportive of Jeter when he smacked an RBI single to right center in the top of the ninth inning.
"It's tough. Getting on the board early against (Hiroki Kuroda), with the stuff he had, 1-0 might have to stand. ... I've got to make good pitches when I need to (and) start putting guys away with two strikes." -- Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, after the Rays' loss Sunday. He had a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings but finished by allowing three runs and four hits in five innings.