Rays Notes: David Price Day, Moving On Without Shields, Dan Wheeler Joins Shields, Davis in KC


Pretty cool to have a city (and a pretty major one at that) name a day after you. After an outstanding 2012 season that culminated in the AL Cy Young Award, David Price had the opportunity to experience that thrill. A little after 2 PM, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn presented Price and his dog, Astro, with keys to the city of Tampa before Price gave a brief speech. Marc Topkin talked about the whole experience while Roger Mooney discussed Astro’s experience a little more. Here’s a great picture of the scene from Topkin.

According to Buckhorn, the only other athlete he knew received a key to the city was former Olympic gold medalist Tianna Madson, so it was definitely a rare honor and Price was humbled by the whole experience.

"“It’s cool to come out here and be able to do this,” Price said. “To be a part of the city of Tampa and have everybody come out and support me here today was a great feeling.”"

Thank you Tampa and Mayor Buckhorn for today!! Never even dreamed/thought of anything like itlockerz.com/s/268192114

— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) December 11, 2012

Astro’s honor was even rarer.

"“Never given one to a dog. That’s a first,” Buckhorn said. “Especially to a talking dog. Even my own dog hasn’t been in my office, but Astro came in there and took control. We have a picture of Astro sitting in the mayor’s chair.”"

Big congratulations are in order to Price and Astro, and hopefully the next time we see them at City Hall will be a World Series parade.

What’s the exact opposite of getting honored by the area where you play? Getting traded to another city. Unfortunately for James Shields, that was the case for him and Wade Davis on Sunday night, and Price talked about how the Rays are going to move on without him to the Rays’ official site.

"“We just need to step up. Nobody needs to try to take everything on, put everything on their back, and that’s including myself,” Price said. “I can’t try to make up for James Shields and Wade Davis all by myself in one start and stuff like that. I’m just going to treat it the same way, go out there and try to give us a chance to win every fifth day. I think that’s the most important thing that Shields kind of showed me, was taking that ball every fifth day.”"

Talking to Mooney, Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey talked about his expectations for the Rays’ rotation without Shields.

"“We’re going to certainly miss James a lot in a lot of ways, but I also think we’re going to carry on,” Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said. “There’s not going to be, I don’t believe, a tremendous drop off in production.”“Probably whoever fills his spot doesn’t give you those innings, because that’s asking a lot,” Hickey said. “So let’s just say they give you 180, 190, you got to come up with an extra 30 or 40 innings that you didn’t before. And that can be big, but I also think our bullpen is deep enough or strong enough to cover that.”"

For the Rays to contend next season, they need their pitching staff to stay right around the same level as it was in 2012, and for that to happen without Shields, they need need big steps forward from Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and their other pitchers. But the Rays believe that their pitchers can live up to the challenge, and while it’s going to be strange not seeing Shields out on the mound, the Rays have several awfully talented starting pitchers on their roster and they believe their rotation will be a force to be reckoned with once again in 2013.

Shields and Davis are heading to Kansas City, and they’re not the only ones. The Royals announced that they have signed former Rays right-hander Dan Wheeler to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Wheeler struggled mightily for the Cleveland Indians in 2012, managing just an 8.76 ERA and a 2-7 strikeout to walk ratio (unfortunately, that’s not a typo) in 12 appearances. However, Wheeler pitched well in Triple-A the rest of the year, going 3-3 with a 2.32 ERA, a 6.3 K/9, a 2.7 BB/9, and 0.8 HR/9 in 36 appearances and 42.2 innings pitched, and with a couple of ex-teammates cheering on, hopefully Wheeler can get back on track in the big leagues next season.

And finally, in case you missed it, the afternoon after the big Shields trade that sent Wil Myers to the Rays, the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, announced a special promotion, the “Wil He, Won’t He?” ticket package that allows fans to buy tickets to a specific three of their games, including Opening Day and July 4th for $24, and if Myers makes the Rays out of spring training, fans who buy the package will get a voucher to any other game for free.

"“This ticket package is truly a win-win for our fans,” said Bulls General Manager Mike Birling. “Either we start the season with one of the most exciting, can’t miss prospects in all of baseball or folks will get another game added to their package at no extra cost.”"

Great idea by the Bulls to come up with that promotion, and if you live in the Durham area, that package may be worth your consideration.