Holden Kushner
Friday September 26th, 2008

The Tampa Bay Rays, on the verge of clinching their first AL East title, just got a little bit better recently when they called up their No. 1 overall draft pick from last year: left-hander David Price.

In his first-ever big league start, on Monday against the Orioles, the Vanderbilt graduate gave up two runs, one earned, in 5 1/3 innings in a Tampa Bay victory in Baltimore. Price took time to talk just before a recent game at Camden Yards.

Holden Kushner: David, how do you assess your first major-league start?

David Price: Obviously, I would have liked to have gone deeper in the game, allow no runs. But I did keep us in a position to win the game and that's what counts.

HK: What do you feel you executed successfully in that first start?

DP: I would say throwing my fastball inside. I threw quite a few fastballs and located them well and that helped me set up my other pitches and opened up the outside part of the plate.

HK: You told me that you went into that first start treating it as just another outing. How was it possible to approach something for the first time in such a veteran manner?

DP: When you think about it too much, that's when the nerves begin to take control of you instead of you taking control of the game. Everything out there starts and stops with me because I'm the pitcher. I just have to treat my starts like I did back in high school. No differently.

HK: What were some of the things flashing through your mind when you stepped on to the mound in your first major-league appearance at Yankee Stadium last week?

DP: Those nerves in the first inning were there pretty good. I was very lucky to have just a seven-pitch inning in my first major-league inning. I couldn't have asked for a better start. By the second inning, I felt fine. I wasn't too happy about giving up a home run to Derek Jeter in that game, but outside of David Justice, he was my favorite player to watch growing up.

HK: You've got terrific command of your mid-90's fastball, but tell me more about what makes your slider so effective.

DP: My favorite pitch to throw is a fastball in. So if I can throw that in on right-handers, they have to respect that slider. They have to respect the inside part of the plate, too. So if I throw my slider and it starts middle-in, they've got to start their hands early on the pitch. It's either a foul ball, swing-and-miss or weak contact. That's why my slider is really effective.

HK: You went through your normal preparation getting ready to make your first start. How did that preparation change when coming out of the bullpen in relief in your major-league debut against the Yankees?

DP: Not a whole lot. [Manager] Joe [Maddon] has been very good about giving me as much time as I need to get ready so I can go through my whole routine. Both times I've come in out of the bullpen, he's given me five or six outs as opposed to just two or three outs. That makes the transition easier.

HK: Just a few days ago, this franchise clinched its first-ever playoff berth. What was the atmosphere like in the clubhouse after you clinched?

DP: This clubhouse is something else. If you are going to be in baseball, you would want to be a part of this clubhouse. The guys in here are awesome. We've got a great chemistry. It's something I can already pick up on and I've barely been here for a week. It's something I like to be a part of. When we clinched it was just crazy. We had a really good time.

HK: This team has decided that sporting mohawks is a good way to keep winning. How long did it take for you to end up with that stripe down your head?

DP: Oh, not long. [Johnny] Gomes told me to do it. I said, "OK, I'll do it if you do it". It was done. Gomes has just kind of put me under his wings since I was in Triple-A. He's looked out for me.

HK: How much has having a guy with experience helped your transition to the major-league level?

DP: It means a lot. I expected it more to come from a pitcher. He's an outfielder. If I ever need anything, I can call him. If I need to know what time is the bus or where do I put my bags, I can just shoot him a text and he'll get right back. Everyone that watches baseball knows he's 100 percent behind his teammates. It's good to have him.

HK: In your brief time up here, what have you learned anything from pitchers?

DP: Nothing from the opposition yet, but I have talked to James Shields. He taught me how to throw his change-up and I threw two really good ones in Baltimore the other night. The first one was called a ball just below the knees and the other one was a ground out on a 0-1 pitch. That's a start. Normally I wouldn't throw competitive change-ups, but I threw three competitive change-up's in game action. I'll take that.

HK: You mentioned that you threw a pitch just below the knees. Let's say that you disagree with a call. You're a rookie, so how do you handle that?

DP: It wouldn't be the first time I've had a bad call. I don't expect to get the call that's just off the black. You've got to serve your time in the game. I completely understand that. It really comes down to composure.

HK: You told me that you grew up a Braves fan. You've seen them in a lot of postseasons. Can you envision what the scene will be at the start of this franchise's first ever American League Division Series?

DP: I really don't know what to expect. I know it's gonna be a packed house whereever we're at. The intensity is going to be high and it's going to be a lot of fun.

HK: David, look forward to seeing you pitch in the postseason.

DP: Can't wait. Thank you.

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