Price last pitched Tuesday, "so he'll be available [for bullpen duty Saturday]," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "But obviously, with him not having much experience in the bullpen, it'll be something that we may approach a little differently. But as far as the particulars of the Price rules, it's too early to give any direction there. But tomorrow, he will be available to pitch in relief."
The plan is for all three pitchers to be used out of the bullpen.
"All three guys don't have much experience in the bullpen," Friedman said. "We're going to come up with something that we feel like works. We're fortunate it's September and we have a lot of options down there. We're going to think through it on all three guys."
Price has experienced a meteoric rise in his first professional season. He went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts at Class A Vero Beach before getting moved to Double-A Montgomery, where he went 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA. And finally at Durham, Price went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts before going 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two playoff starts.
"For David to get this opportunity so early in his career speaks volumes about him," Friedman said. "And we still feel like there are some things developmentally that he needs to work on. [There was] a little bit of a road bump for him in Triple-A, but it's good for his development to have experienced it. And we think for him to be a part of this environment and what's going on right now will further aide his development."
Price, 22, was chosen by the Rays first overall in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University. He impressed throughout Spring Training, finishing his spring with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances while retiring six of the seven hitters he faced, striking out three and hitting one. In the process, his fastball hit 99 mph on several occasions.
"I am sensitve to the expectations that are out there with David," Friedman said. "This is his first year of professional baseball. Again, he still does have some things to work on. But having said that, we feel like in certain situations, he can help us."
Talbot and Niemann will each begin their second stint in the Major Leagues this season. Niemann posted a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA in two starts for the Rays and went 9-5 with a 3.59 ERA for Durham. Talbot did not get to pitch during an abbreviated one-day stint with the Rays and went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA at Durham.
"I'm excited about all three [pitchers]," Friedman said. "I think all three can help us. They've all pitched extremely well this year. And we feel like, in the right situations, they will all give us a nice boost the last two weeks."
Gomes hit .182 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 69 games for the Rays; he hit .252 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 26 games for Durham.