August 2nd, 2014

David Price: “I just want to fit in”

Price 003

That was a frequent phrase during David Price’s 20-minute session with reporters in the Tigers dugout at Comerica Park. He said it at least a handful of times. He also talked about the adjustment of pitching in Detroit, pitching in front of a packed house, and pitching with World Series expectations.

Highlights …

How Price found out Tigers were a possibility as Thursday went along:

“I didn’t know Detroit was even in the running for it. … Joba texted me whenever I was playing golf that morning, and said ‘Make sure you bring your sticks.’ I was like ‘We already came to Detroit …’ Then a couple hours later, I heard about it. It’s pretty cool to be traded to a first-place team.”

How the rest of the day followed:

“I played golf early in the morning that day, and then I went to the ballpark and got my workout in and threw with Hellickson, because he was throwing. I just went there to get away from everything because the baseball field is where I feel the most comfortable, to really get away from everything. My agent texted me whenever I was leaving and said it was about to happen in about the next half-hour or hour, so just be prepared. And I went home, just sat on the couch, sat there with the dogs and my girlfriend. We didn’t have the TV on or anything. We were just relaxing. My phone let me know when it happened. It was a whirlwind. I’m excited.”

On his success against Miguel Cabrera, 1-for-17 against him:

“I tried to throw strike one. I feel like if you’re 1-0, or 2-1 against that guy, he’s going to hit the baseball hard. He definitely hit his fair share of balls hard. He hit a couple balls hard here against me in my last start. In his first at bat, with a runner on third base, with one out, he hit a bullet to center for an RBI. In his second or third at-bat, he hit a ball to right that, if the wind’s not blowing in 30 mph, or if we’re in a normal park, it’s definitely a home run. In his fourth at-bat, it was a generous call on my cutter. I told him at the All-Star Game, I thought it was a ball, and he definitely agreed. I’ll always take whatever I can get, especially against guys like that. I really don’t know how I had the amount of success I had against him. I feel like, trying to get ahead, and just making my pitch.”

On the excitement of pitching in front of a sellout crowd:

“We still had our good crowds, whenever we were facing the really good teams, the Bostons, the New Yorks, the Detroits — any first-place team or weekend series, stuff like that — I feel like we did pretty good. But knowing you’re going to get one every fifth day, every start here, that’s pretty special, and I’m looking forward to it.”

On why he feels this season has been his best pitching:

“I’m commanding the strike zone at a rate I really never have. Strike one, throwing strikes. I know I throw a lot of strikes. If it’s 0-2, I’m not trying to get a guy out out of the strike zone. I think doing that, the hitters, they definitely know that so 0-0 I’m getting swings, 0-1. Guys are trying to not just put the ball in play, but they’re trying to force early action, and that’s what I want. I want a guy on or out in 3 pitches or less. If I can do that, if I give up 2, 3, 4 runs, I feel like I can still pitch in that 7th, 8th, possibly 9th inning, getting guys on or out in 3 pitches or less. Just throwing strikes, attacking the strike zone, hitters know that, so they want to put the ball in play early, kind of like Detroit did the other Sunday.”

On his pride in innings pitched:

“Six innings, I feel like that kind of used to be the staple. You want to get through 6. If I throw 6, I don’t care if I give up 0 or 1, I’m not going to be tremendously happy about that start. Seven innings is cool, but I definitely want to get 25 or 27 outs in a game. I want to be able to pitch into that 8th or 9th inning. That’s what I take pride in.”

On his postseason history:

“I had a really bad start last year in Boston. I haven’t had a whole lot of postseason starts. I don’t know how many starts it is. I know Game 163 last year didn’t count, but that’s a Game 5 or a Game 7 of the postseason. If you lose that game, you go home. I know I faced Texas quite a few times, and that’s a team that I can’t stand facing. I mean, they know that. That’s a park I really struggle to pitch in. With the lineups they had in 2010, 2011, that was an extremely tough team to pitch against. I’m pretty sure I faced Cliff Lee in a couple of those starts and I think he threw complete-game shutouts against us, so that made it even tougher.

“I know I can pitch in the postseason. I did it when I was a rookie in 2008 when I had no idea about Major League Baseball, really. I was facing good teams at that time. I came in this park with bases loaded facing Miguel, I think I was facing 2-3-4 in that lineup and got through it. That was a big moment for me right there, and I look forward to keeping it going.”

On his timetable for deciding his long-term future:

“I have no idea to be honest. I try to focus on the now. Whenever you focus on six months from now or 18 months from now, that means you’re not focusing on what you’re trying to do right now. And what I’m trying to do right now, I’ve said before, in between my starts to be the best teammate I can be, and whenever it’s my turn to pitch, go out there and pitch as deep into the game as I can and give these guys a good chance to win. That’s what I’m focusing on right now. That’s been my mindset ever since I got here. It’s not worrying about free agency or what all’s going on with that. I want to focus in on right now, on the Detroit Tigers, on my teammates, and just give these guys a chance to win every fifth day.”

On the pressure of the perception as a difference-maker:

“It does add a little bit of pressure, but in Tampa I was looked at as the difference maker as well, not only the difference maker but just the leader of the staff. This staff, there’s five leaders, I feel like, with the way that these guys are throwing the baseball. I guess if Rick Porcello is our five, that’s pretty remarkable, the way he’s thrown the ball this year as well. I don’t add any extra pressure on myself. Like I said before, pressure is perceived. If I can go out there, first and foremost, I want to have fun on the baseball field. Whenever you lose sight of that, it really turns into a job, and then it’s not a whole lot of fun even if you are throwing the ball well. I want to go out there and have fun, enjoy my teammates, enjoy the environment, just help this team win.”

Saturday’s lineup: Tigers vs. Rockies

The Rockies have another lefty going in Tyler Matzek, so aside from Alex Avila starting at catcher, it’s the same lineup, including Rajai Davis leading off and playing in center field.

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Torii Hunter, RF
  6. J.D. Martinez, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Eugenio Suarez, SS

P: Rick Porcello

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