Rays Archer to face former mentor David Price
TORONTO (AP) David Price was standing in front of the Toronto dugout, surrounded by cameras and reporters, when a voice piped up from the back.
''Um, excuse me,'' came the question. ''What will it be like to face your protege tomorrow?''
Turning to see who was doing the talking, the Blue Jays left-hander deadpanned an answer, telling his questioner, ''I'm terrified, man.''
That was the first of several funny exchanges in an impromptu interview with Price conducted by Rays right-hander Chris Archer. Archer will pitch against Price, his former teammate and mentor, for the time first time on Saturday.
More than a year after Price was traded by Tampa Bay, he remains popular with his former teammates. Price stopped by the Rays clubhouse for a visit before batting practice Friday.
''Everybody feels like they're best friends with him,'' Archer said. ''Hopefully, I can be that influence on some younger guys who aren't even here yet.''
Price repaid the compliment, calling Archer ''a good friend'' and ''great teammate.''
Archer is 12-12 with a 2.92 ERA.
''He's definitely made very big strides out there on the mound,'' Price said. ''It's fun to see. I think he's kind of scratching the surface of what he could be. He's going to be very good.''
Price was dealt to Detroit at the deadline in 2014, then was traded to Toronto on July 30 this year. He is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts for the AL East-leading Blue Jays.
''We've still got a lot of pitchers who still do things because Price did them,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''That's what they talk about, is David Price. I think that speaks volumes about him as a person, as a leader, as a pitcher. It certainly seems like they're following the right guy because he's a had a tremendous career so far.''
Archer still has vivid memories of his first meeting with Price. A high-schooler who'd been drafted by Cleveland in 2007, Archer was doing offseason workouts at Vanderbilt, where Price was an All-American. Because they shared the same agent, Archer was throwing to a young catcher named Josh Donaldson, now Toronto's star third baseman and an AL MVP candidate. Price came in to throw after Archer's session was done, and the right-hander introduced himself to the star lefty.
''I'll never forget it,'' Archer said. ''He's everything I wanted to be.''
Still, Archer and the Rays won't be taking it easy on Toronto, which is on the verge of ending a 22-year playoff drought.
''We are trying to play spoiler,'' Archer said.