PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) David Price didn’t think he would be in Port Charlotte this spring.
For much of the offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays’ ace expected to be traded.
Instead, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year contract to remain with the only team he’s ever played for, a huge deal for the small-market club.
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”It feels great. Everybody knows how much I love this organization and how much they love me. The way the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa have treated me over the course of six or seven years has been nothing short of incredible,” Price said Saturday. ”I love it here. I’m very comfortable. This is home for me.”
There’s still a chance that Price could get traded before the end of the season, but he thinks each day in Port Charlotte makes it less likely.
”Right now, I don’t think there’s a very good chance of being traded because I’m here in spring training,” he said. ”I felt like if I could make it to spring training, that would solidify my place on this team.”
Price isn’t the only member of the Rays happy to see him return. His teammates say his contributions to the warm clubhouse atmosphere are as important as the pitches he throws.
”David has a great arm,” new Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan said. ”I’ve watched him pitch a lot. His performances speak for themselves. He’s a great clubhouse guy, too. I got a text from him when I signed just saying, I’ll have (the pitchers) ready for you.’ That’s awesome. He’s a leader.”
Manager Joe Maddon suggested the uncertainty of where the looming offseason would take him weighed heavily on Price last season. He went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA. Maddon expects Price will enjoy this season much more and could return to his form from 2012, when he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA.
”I can definitely see him not as edgy,” Maddon said. ”He’s more comfortable here. He believes he’s going to be here. Last year was a difficult year, coming off all the awards and coming back with all the uncertainty.”
If Price does return to that 2012 form, it could lead to something very big for the Rays.
”We have a very solid team right now from our outfield to our infield, which is always packed with Gold Gloves,” Price said. ”I feel like we have a very competitive team right now. Everybody in here has very high hopes for us.”