To little surprise, ace left-hander David Price was named the Tampa Bay Rays’ Opening Day starter.
Manager Joe Maddon made the announcement Thursday in Port Charlotte, Fla., as the Rays continued spring-training preparations at Charlotte Sports Park. Price will face the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener at 4:10 p.m. March 31 at Tropicana Field, an appearance that will begin his seventh Rays season after the club selected him first overall in the 2007 draft.
Price, 28, was rumored as a possible trade piece in the offseason, but pleasing value for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner apparently never materialized.
This will be his third Opening Day start, following appearances in 2011 and 2013.
"Any time you’re asked to throw the first game of the season for your club, it’s a big day," Price told reporters. "We take pride in it. It’s a very special feeling for that Opening Day, whether you’re pitching it or you’re on the bench. … It’s very special for us, and it kicks off our season, so it’s always good to get the ball rolling. I’m the one who got the nod, and I’m very fortunate for it."
Price went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 27 starts last season, a year that was abbreviated because a left triceps strain that kept him from making starts from May 16-July 1. He’s a career 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA and 876 strikeouts.