Jun 9, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) talks with starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) prior to the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Roundup: David Price Ready to Return, Sean Rodriguez Prepared to Catch

What would the Rays be like without David Price? Well, we just found out as Price hasn’t appeared in a game since May 15th. But at long last, Price’s absence from the Rays is drawing to a close. As we covered in today’s minor league recap, Price was excellent in his second rehab start for High-A Charlotte, going 5 innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 8 while walking 1. His fastball touched the mid-90′s and nothing was bothering him as the game went about as well as anyone could have hoped. And in its aftermath, Price believes that he is ready to make his next start in the major leagues and Jim Hickey agrees, although both concede that the final call has not yet been made.

Asked if he thinks he needs another outing in the Minors, he said, “I don’t think so. Obviously, that’s not my decision. I don’t know what the plan is. But they’ve had one for a while. I just take it day by day. I didn’t even know how many pitches I was going to throw until this morning.

One thing worth nothing is that Price through only 72 pitches and might be on a pitch count when he returns, and even if Price looked sharp, it may be worthwhile to make sure he’s geared up for 100 or 105 pitches in his debut. But Price’s progress is certainly great news for a Rays team that has suffered through inconsistency in its rotation most of the year, and they can’t wait to finally have their ace back.

There was a little bit of a scary moment in Wednesday’s game when Jose Lobaton got hit by Adam Lind‘s after-swing and had to be attended to by the Rays’ trainers. Jose Molina was already out of the game, so Sean Rodriguez was going to have to step in as emergency catcher if Lobaton was going to have to leave the game. There wasn’t something that Rodriguez was scared of, and Joe Maddon that Rodriguez was ready.

“I wanted to get that inning under my belt, it would’ve been something for everybody to kind of smile about with a game like that, (R.A.) Dickey throwing as well as he did, but it was good to see he was all right,” Rodriguez said.

Manager Joe Maddon said he figured Lobaton would be.

“Sean was ready to go, man,” Maddon said. “I was out there telling Loby, You realize Sean is next, how do you feel? I was just trying to get him to smile. He definitely was shaken in the beginning — that hit him firmly.”

 Definitely don’t want to root for a situation where Rodriguez has to enter a game because of an injury, but it’s great to know that he’s prepared. Rodriguez hasn’t actually caught a game since high school but has worked bullpens for the Rays and would not be completely inept. Why Rodriguez and not the former catcher the Rays have in their outfield, Wil Myers? Rodriguez summed it up best.
“No chance,” Rodriguez said. “We’re fighting. He’s the prospect. We have to take care of him.”
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