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Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day Countdown: 14 Days to Go

The best pitcher in franchise history donned the number 14 for six years

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There are now 14 days until Opening Day.

Among those to wear the number 14 for the Rays: The best pitcher in franchise history, the player to record the first hit in franchise history, and the player who got injured allowing the best offensive performance in franchise history.

  • Dave Martinez (1998-2000)
  • Jason Tyner (2000-2002)
  • Brent Abernathy (2003)
  • Greg Norton (2006-2007)
  • David Price (2008-2014)
  • Jaff Decker (2016)
  • Trevor Plouffe (2017)

Dave Martinez was a journeyman outfielder who signed with Tampa Bay Rays in December of 1997. On Opening Day in 1998, Martinez was the starting right fielder in the team’s first ever regular season game, and during the 3rd inning, he recorded the first base hit in franchise history.

Martinez would stay with the Rays until May of 2000, when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Mark Guthrie. Overall during his time with Tampa Bay, Martinez hit .272/.348/.362 with 10 HR, accruing a total of 0.4 bWAR over 262 games.

Jason Tyner would be acquired at the 2000 trade deadline, he was next in line to wear the #14 for the Rays. An exciting young player, Tyner became a crowd favorite due to his all out style of play. However, his actual performance left much to be desired. He’d be demoted for good halfway though the 2002 season and then claimed off waivers during the off-season. Overall with the Rays, Tyner hit .258/.291/.295 with 0 HR over 179 games played, putting up 54 wRC+ and -0.6 fWAR.

Jason Tyner #14

Brent Abernathy picked up the number 14 for an extremely brief time in 2003 — 2 games — before being designated for assignment.

Greg Norton came in during the 2006 season and was given the number 14 and proceeded to be the top offensive player on the Rays roster that year as he put up a 132 wRC+ , bashing 17 HR over just 98 games in 2006.

In 2007, Norton looked to be the team’s starting first baseman, but suffered an injury towards the end of spring training. The injury led to Carlos Pena receiving the starting job, and when Norton returned to the active roster, he struggled and was relegated to the bench. He would become a free agent following the season.

Late during the 2008 season, the Rays promoted top prospect, LHP David Price from Triple-A to add a weapon to their bullpen as they prepped for the playoffs.

Price did not disappoint and delivered a tremendous performance in the post season, recording the final outs in a dramatic game seven in the ALCS.

Over the next few years, Price would develop into the team’s ace, culminating in a Cy Young winning campaign during the 2012 season. However, Price would just keep getting better and better.

Injuries plagued him early through the 2013 season, leading him to reinvent himself as more of a control pitcher. This led to Price drastically decreasing his walk rate and pitching deeper, and more effectively into games for the club. He was enjoying another great year in 2014 for the Rays, before being dealt to the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline.

During his six years with the Rays, Price pitched in 175 — 170 starts — while accumulating a 3.18 ERA / 3.33 FIP over 1144 innings pitched. In terms of fWAR, Price totaled 23.3 fWAR while in a Rays uniform.

Check back tomorrow as the countdown continues.