Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/16/13
The Rays’ clubhouse is a fun place these days, but no one in Tampa Bay is laughing about David Price’s season. Price, who won 20 games en route to earning the AL Cy Young award last season, has long been a key character in the debate over which pitcher could crack the $200-million plateau with his next contract. It’s probably unlikely that Price, who has two more years of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2015 season, will reach that figure, but the 27-year-old still figures to have a lucrative future. The Rays need to handle the current situation with the utmost care in order to maximize that future, though. Price is 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA through nine starts this season, which makes it amazing that the Rays have stayed afloat in the AL East with a 20-19 record. Normally, the Rays could view that positively in that things should only get better once Price gets on track. However, with the way this season has gone for Price, him turning his season around isn’t exactly a foregone conclusion. Price left Wednesday’s start against the Red Sox in the third inning with triceps tightness, and there’s a good chance he’ll miss at least his next start. “It’s something I’ve got to take care of,” Price told reporters after the game. “I can’t just go out there because I’m just not putting my neck on the line. I’m part of this team. I want to be there in August and September and October, when we’re playing in the playoffs.” The AL East has been all it’s cracked up to be so far this season — deep and very, very unpredictable. The Yankees’ hot start despite all of their injuries, the Blue Jays’ overall awfulness despite their high expectations, the Orioles proving 2012 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox’ sudden Jekyll and Hyde act after a fantastic start are all key storylines at the moment. The AL East was arguably the most difficult division to put a finger on before the season started, and it isn’t much easier to figure out nowadays. The most perplexing story within the division, however, might be Price. Not only are the results not there, but there are some red flags when it comes to the talented left-hander. Price has lost about 2 mph on his fastball, which now sits around 92-94 mph rather than 94-96 mph (like it did last year), and he’s throwing the pitch with less and less regularity. It’s also worth noting that Price is spending an average of 24 seconds in-between pitches, which is nearly three seconds longer than his career average of 21.3 seconds in-between pitches. Why are these red flags? Well, common sense says something could be wrong physically. The drop-off in velocity is alarming, and the increased time between pitches could indicate that Price is trying to recover as much as possible after dialing it up on certain pitches. Clearly, this is speculation, but Wednesday’s injury does nothing to debunk such a theory. “From what I was told right now, there was nothing really hot on the MRI,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ll look at it further [Thursday] and make a determination at that point. But from what I’m hearing right now it doesn’t sound to be awful.” The injury might not be awful, but the current situation is less than ideal for both Price and the Rays. If Price keeps struggling or finds himself battling a lingering injury, the Rays are going to find it harder to stay afloat, Price’s future stock in the free-agent market is going to drop and the left-hander’s stock in the trade market might even go down. None of that is reassuring for a team who dealt away another ace, James Shields, during the offseason. Price’s season has been a train wreck, but the future might only become worse if the Rays aren’t extremely careful with the delicate situation they currently face. The best course of action might be to shut the ace down for a little bit. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavs discussed three-team deal that would net them Melo

Celtics reportedly discussing Kevin Love trade

New York Giants to pursue Matt Forte?

Joe Mauer to try wearing sunglasses to improve pitch tracking

Charles Woodson joining ESPN's 'Sunday NFL Countdown' team

A’s land Khris Davis from Brewers for prospects

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Family of deceased Kyle Field construction worker awarded $53 million by jury

Chris Bosh to miss All-Star Game with calf injury, Al Horford to replace

NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports bringing sports betting in to the light

Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia becomes first player ever banned by MLB for PEDs

Eight bold predictions for NBA All-Star Weekend

Iowa athletics department under federal civil rights investigation

Why the Virginia Cavaliers are a National Championship contender

Cardiff City owner tells team to shoot more, because ugly men can marry beautiful women

Report: American Pharoah will make $35 million as stud in 2016

City hosts Tottenham in Valentine’s Day clash

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Is there a place for Aaron Hill with the Brewers?

The market for forwards may shape the NHL trade deadline

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

The most intriguing NBA story lines for the rest of the season

Report: Timberwolves ‘lament’ Andrew Wiggins missing weight-lifting sessions

Kevin Durant to the Warriors makes little sense

City of Atlanta, Braves fighting over iconic Hank Aaron statue

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker