Price hoping to cut down on walks

Price hoping to cut down on walks

DENVER -- Phenom David Price is frustrated, and he hopes that feeling will end Wednesday night in the middle game of the Rays' three-game Interleague series against the Rockies in Interleague Play.

Price's problem is his penchant for walking batters, which has not allowed him to pitch past the sixth inning -- including his eight-start stint in the Minor Leagues -- in 2009.

"It's frustrating, it is," Price said. "I can't really pinpoint it. I never had problems throwing strikes in my entire life, and it's something I'm struggling with a little bit right now.

"The more people you walk, the more pitches you are going to throw. A lot of times, you don't walk guys on four straight pitches. That means you're throwing six, seven pitches to a hitter, and it's like that at-bat didn't even matter."

Price added that he'd rather the batter hit a single on the first pitch than run up his pitch count with at-bats ending in a walk.

In four starts with the Rays, Price is 1-0 with a 2.37 ERA, but has given up 18 walks in 19 innings pitched. In the Minors, Price had 18 walks in 34 1/3 innings.

Price said the uneven results could have easily zapped all of his confidence. It hasn't yet because of manager Joe Maddon.

"I felt great in my last start and I walked six guys," Price said. "Joe came out there and he was like, 'Good job, you battled. You kept us in the game and you battled, which is essentially what we needed.' I didn't look at it that way. I look at it as letting myself and the team down."

Maddon said he has to be patient with a young player like Price because the organization is counting on him long term. If Maddon isn't there for Price, as well as other young developing players, he said it may take longer for them to reach their potential. Maddon believes Price will snap out of his funk soon.

"I understand his frustration. He's a very good self-evaluator and he told you where a lot of young pitchers would not have even said that. That's the part why I believe he is going to be good sooner rather than later."

If Price doesn't pitch deep into Wednesday's game, he said he will be the best teammate he can be.

"I cheer my teammates on," Price said. "I've got to leave [the frustration] out on the field. When I get off, I've got to become a teammate. That's something that I've got to do and I think I've handled it well, and it's something I want to continue to do. I love to be able to cheer for my team for an inning or two, but not three or four."

Pitching matchup
TB: LHP David Price (1-0, 2.37 ERA)
It was another short outing for the rookie Price, who in four starts this season has yet to pitch into the seventh inning. The left-hander was erratic in 4 1/3 innings against Anaheim, walking six and throwing 105 pitches. But he was also dominant, striking out six and allowing only two hits and one run. It's that dichotomy that has been frustrating so far for Rays fans, who continue to wait for a breakthrough performance from Price and will hope the thin air in Colorado doesn't deter him.

COL: RHP Aaron Cook (5-3, 4.26 ERA)
Cook ran the starters' winning streak to eight consecutive games with a solid outing Thursday in Milwaukee, allowing just one run despite seven hits in six-plus innings. He struck out a season-high seven batters and only ran into trouble when he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the seventh. After recording the first out of the game, Cook became the first pitcher to throw 1,000 career innings in a Rockies uniform. Tampa Bay has been unkind to Cook -- he has allowed 11 earned runs in 12 innings over two starts in his career against the Rays.

Tidbits
Shortstop Jason Bartlett returned after missing 19 games because of a left ankle sprain and went 2-for-4 Tuesday. ... On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced that third baseman Evan Longoria leads all American League players in the fan voting with 1,957,380 votes for the 80th All-Star Game in St. Louis on July 14. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is second with 1,921,768 votes. ... Reliever Winston Abreu allowed a run in the ninth inning Tuesday to snap the bullpen's scoreless streak at 25 innings. It's the second longest streak by Rays relievers in club history, trailing only a 27 2/3 innings streak from May 18-26, 2004.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• Sun Sports

On radio
• WDAE 620

Up next
• Thursday: Rays (Matt Garza, 4-4, 3.63) at Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 5-6, 3.92), 3:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 5-6, 6.65) at Mets (Fernando Nieve, 1-0, 2.08), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Rays (James Shields, 5-5, 3.52) at Mets (Johan Santana, 8-4, 3.29), 4:10 p.m. ET

Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.