ATLANTA -- While keeping a close eye on Mike Minor from afar, Rays left-handed pitcher David Price has gained the sense that his former Vanderbilt University teammate is going through some of the same inevitable struggles that he endured after he gained a lasting place in the Majors during the 2009 season.
"He's going through some growing pains," Price said. "There is not a better league than this one right here. This is the Major Leagues. If you don't come correct every five days, it's going to get you. When you go through it and get through it knowing how to get through it, then whenever you start to go back through it again, it's easier to get out of it."
Minor, who will start against the Giants on Wednesday night, has remained confident and poised while encountering trouble during his first full Major League season. The 24-year-old left-hander has posted a 5.97 ERA, surrendered 19 home runs and allowed opponents to produce a .823 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) against him in his first 16 starts.
Since struggling in his first full big league season, Price has made three consecutive All-Star appearances. While Minor might not be destined to travel the same path, he has already started to show some improvement while posting a 4.24 ERA and limiting opponents to a .739 OPS in his past six starts.
"He's got great stuff," Price said. "He'll get it."
Two years older, Price remembers Minor arriving at Vanderbilt as a shy young kid who grew much more comfortable with his surroundings over the next three years.
"His freshman year, he was so quiet," Price said. "He came from a hometown with something like two red lights in it. That was a big change for him. But then he opened up quite a bit. I remember going back to see him his junior year and he was night-and-day different. Everybody knew he had a good personality and he let it show."