Tampa Bay pitcher David Price understands the reality of things.
That doesn't make it easier, though.
Price has watched this offseason as the Rays have lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano to free agency — while their only signing has been 34-year-old journeyman relief pitcher Joel Peralta.
“It's tough,” Price said. “But that's the business side of baseball. You can't let that affect the way you prepare for the season. I'm going into 2011 to win it, and that's what we're working toward.”
Price took a break from his offseason preparations to accept the Warren Spahn Award on Thursday at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
The award, which honors baseball's best left-hander, is calculated using wins, strikeouts and ERA. Price was 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 188 strikeouts last season.
Price made his first trip to Oklahoma to receive the award.
“I had to call my mom and ask her how long the flight was,” Price said. “I had no idea.”
Price didn't know about the Warren Spahn Award until he was told that he had won.
“Once I was familiar with it, though, I did research it a bit. To see guys like Randy Johnson and CC Sabathia as some of the former winners, it's definitely an added honor,” Price said.
Johnson won the award in each of its first four years, from 1999 to 2002. Sabathia won the last three years before Price broke his streak.
“I'll be ragging on him during spring training about that,” Price said, adding that he hoped to make the trip back to Oklahoma City in future years.
After a brief appearance in the majors in 2008, which included five relief appearances in the postseason, Price had an uneven rookie year in 2009.
Price had a breakout season in 2010. In addition to his impressive stats, Price started the All-Star Game, finished second in the American League Cy Young voting to Seattle's Felix Hernandez and helped the Rays to their second A.L. East title in three seasons.
“He had an outstanding year,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, who attended the ceremony. “He's a great young pitcher.”
Price got his first look at the trophy before the ceremony.
“That's a two-handed trophy,” Jenkins told Price.
Price credits his brief experience with the Rays late in the 2008 season and in the ALCS and World Series with helping his development.
And although he was used as a reliever in 2008, having that experience calmed him down when starting last season's Division Series against the Texas Rangers.
“I'd at least been in similar situations,” Price said. “It didn't end the way we wanted to see it end, but I felt good about the experience.”