David Price to start Rays' opener

David Price will be on the hill Opening Day when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays on March 31, a starting assignment that seemed far from certain earlier this offseason when the ace was the subject of trade rumors.

"Any time you're asked to throw the first game of the season for your club, it's a big day," Price told reporters. "We take pride in it. It's a very special feeling for that Opening Day, whether you're pitching it or whether you're on the bench. I've been on the bench on Opening Day and it still gives you goose bumps, the national anthem, everything that goes on.

"You know during Opening Day, it's very special for us and it kicks off our season. So it's always good to get the ball rolling, and I'm the one that got the nod, so I'm very fortunate for that."

Manager Joe Maddon made the announcement Thursday. It will be Price's third Opening Day assignment in his career with the Rays.

"All I know is this: When you see him here now, I try to visualize him not being here now, and the different feeling that would engender," Maddon told reporters. "It would be an entirely different feeling without him being here.

"It's really good to have him back, man. You got to do it. You got to play that mind game with yourself. What would it be like to not have him here? Not nearly the vibe we have going on right now."