Tigers road trip preview: Price to face former team

David Price is scheduled to pitch Thursday's day game, opposing former teammate Alex Cobb.

Rick Osentoski

DETROIT — For whatever reason, the Detroit Tigers have played better on the road this season than they have at home.

Despite their last 2-7 trip, the Tigers are 33-27 on the road, 33-29 at home.

The first stop on their next trip is in Tampa, where the Rays have similar issues. The Rays are just 28-34 at home and 33-29 on the road.

The main storyline, of course, will be David Price’s return to face his former team.

Price is scheduled to pitch Thursday’s day game, opposing former teammate Alex Cobb.

"My old stomping grounds," Price said Sunday. "I guess that’s the one place in the AL East I haven’t thrown a pitch in for an opposing team. It’ll be good to see my old buddies. Hopefully we can go there and win a series."

Price, who still has his place in Tampa and a lot of things he needs to deal with, said he hears from his former teammates on a daily basis.

Max Scherzer knows what it’s like to face your old team as he’s had to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks since he was traded to Detroit.

"For me, it was a little weird," Scherzer said. "You’re talking trash to them. You know them. The biggest thing is they’re comfortable with you. This is what I’ve always learned, when you face your friends throughout the game, you gotta let them know that you’re ready to play.  

"But that’s what makes it fun. You know them, they know you and you’re going at it."

Although not a starter, Joba Chamberlain went through the same situation earlier this season when he pitched against the New York Yankees, the team that originally drafted him.

"It’s definitely odd going to the other side ’cause subconsciously you’re so used to being on the field going to the other side, now being on the other side it’s a little different," Chamberlain said. "You’re going to have different nerves that you didn’t really know existed. It’s just trying to be able to combat those and not go away from the game plan."

Phil Coke was also originally a Yankees draft pick and was involved in the same trade that brought Scherzer to the Tigers.

Another part of the Price trade was sending Drew Smyly to the Rays.

Smyly isn’t scheduled to pitch in the upcoming series, but his teammates know it’ll be strange seeing him in a Rays uniform, just as it was seeing Austin Jackson in a Mariners uniform this past weekend.

"It’ll be weird seeing him, just because Shooter, we got all of our stories with him when he was with us," Scherzer said. "It’s always weird when you see one of your former teammates in a different uniform."

Even though Chamberlain didn’t play with Smyly that long, he said it’ll still be odd seeing him on the other side.

"It’s one of those things where you see him and wish him the best," Chamberlain said. "It’s totally different. I’ve gotten to know Drew just over this year now but he’s a special individual and I cherish my time with him. It’s just going to be weird, obviously playing with him all year and now seeing him in a different uniform."

After the emotional trip to Tampa, the Tigers head to Minnesota to face their old Central Division foe, the Twins.

It’s a four-game series over the weekend because of a day-night doubleheader Saturday. The day game is a make-up for a late April game postponed due to weather.

The Twins are in last place in the Central and are 11 1/2 games out of the wild card race so it would behoove the Tigers to try to take advantage of that situation.

"We all go out and we handle business, we create the situation to play bonus baseball come mid-October and so on," Coke said. "If we don’t do business and (the other teams) do their business instead, we’ll be watching them play bonus baseball. So rather than them do that, we want to handle business."