Price excited about opportunity in Toronto
New ace welcomed Friday, cheered on Blue Jays during walk-off win
TORONTO -- David Price's world was turned upside down last year when he was dealt to Detroit from Tampa Bay, the only organization he had ever known. All of a sudden, there were unfamiliar faces everywhere and it understandably took some time to adjust. This season seems like a polar opposite by comparison.
Price was moved prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline for the second consecutive year, but this time there's a "been there, done that" kind of feel to it. He experienced everything before, which should make his transition to the Blue Jays relatively easy.
The 29-year-old arrived at Rogers Centre Friday evening and seemed to fit in right away. Price's favorite popcorn was waiting at his locker, there were plenty of jokes all around and Josh Donaldson even came through with a walk-off single in the 11th inning to cap a 7-6 win to celebrate his arrival. So far, so good.
"Having to do it again, it was easier for me," Price said. "The situation that I was in, being in Tampa for parts of seven seasons and then having to leave there, that was extremely tough. Those were guys that I came up with through the Minor Leagues, had the same coaching staff, I had the same pitching coach, same trainers the entire time I was there.
"My time in Detroit was definitely enjoyable as well. It started off rough last year, just the whole transition thing ... but I feel like I'm pretty familiar with this team, being in the [American League] East for this long. If I didn't know them personally before today, I still felt like I knew quite a bit about them. It definitely made it easier going through it a second time and I'm happy to be here."
Price isn't the only one who is pleased with the way things turned out. Toronto's organization in general has been on Cloud 9 since Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos finalized a deal to acquire Price in exchange for three pitching prospects, including lefty Daniel Norris.
Anthopoulos had been searching for help on the mound but nobody really expected him to be able to pull off a deal of this magnitude. The fact that it came just a couple of days after the Blue Jays traded for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins made it even more special. If there was any doubt before that this team is in a win-now mode, that has since been completely erased.
Price is the bona fide ace that every contending team seems to need, and it's a luxury the Blue Jays haven't had at their disposal since Roy Halladay left town. Combine Price with Friday's Deadline deal for reliever Mark Lowe, and Toronto feels like it finally has the pitching to complement the league's best offense.
When Price was asked during Friday night's news conference what he was looking forward to the most about being on the Blue Jays, as opposed to facing them, he didn't hesitate:
"The long ball, they can hit homers, man," Price said. "They're a tough group to pitch against. Whenever you're pitching against a team like Toronto, you never have ... an inning where you can kind of relax a little bit. Not relax, but you don't have to go full bore, and with this team you have to be on your P's and Q's at all times.
"That's really tough. It's mentally draining when you face a team like this, because you constantly have to be in the game mentally because if not, we can put up runs so fast."
Price immediately becomes the No. 1 option on a staff that also includes R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. The two wild cards continue to be Marco Estrada and Drew Hutchison, but the entire group is accompanied by a suddenly strong bullpen following the additions of Lowe, Hawkins and healthy right-hander Aaron Sanchez.
For the first time since 1992-93, Toronto has done everything it possibly could to load up at the Deadline in the hopes of ending a 22-year playoff drought.
It's that type of mentality that has Price so excited about the next step of his career.
"It's very special," said Price, who is 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA over 146 innings this season. "You can feel the excitement when we were in the dugout. I felt it in the locker room. This is a group of guys who want to win and this is a management and front office that wants to win. So whenever you can kind of put those things together and put it in this city, this country, and it's very important, that's what matters."