Throughout this off season anytime David Price's name was mentioned there was usually a comment following about how he is great, but needs to continue developing his change-up. It's no secret that Price's third offering is behind his blazing fastball and his sharp biting slider. In fact, here is a breakdown of the 236 pitches Price threw for the Rays in the regular season:
- Fastball: 162 times or 68.5%
- Slider: 71 times or 30.2%
- Change-up: 3 times or 1.3%
You can see the change-up was not something he went to often. While Price was able to get away with using two pitches for the Rays in 2008, most of his work came as a reliever where you can get away with two pitches or even in the case of Grant Balfour, one pitch. We recently learned that Price has aligned himself with changeup expert, James Shields and the results, at least in Price's first outing, seem to be very promising. According to Price's first hand account of yesterday's game, he was able to get a strikeout and induce a groundball using the change-up.
"I finally struck somebody out on a change-up; that was huge," Price said. "And it was a lefty, so that's even better. And I got a double-play ball out of one. So I'm proving not only to these guys but I'm proving to myself that I can throw a good change-up to a big-league hitter." ~ RaysReport
Price will most likely start the season working with Durham Pitching Coach and Rays Player Development Man of the Year, Xavier Hernandez. At some point or another, "X" has worked with most, if not all, of the Rays young pitchers. From James Shields, Andy Sonnantine to Jeff Niemann, Hernandez has had a helping handing in development. He even helped veteran Grant Balfour revive his career in 2008. Expect Price and Hernandez to be joined at the hip as he looks to mold Price into the "finished product" the Rays are seeking.
It will be interesting to see how much success Price can have going forward with the change-up. If he can mold it into a third plus pitch, he could seriously dominate for the next decade plus. However, right now the fact that he is already using the change to get outs and is gaining more confidence in the pitch is good enough. After all, we know that 90% of the game is half mental.
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