ST. PETERSBURG -- Making the jump from Triple-A to the Major Leagues is tough for any player, but for pitchers, the transition might be the toughest.
During this particular juncture of the season, with David Price and Alex Cobb on the disabled list, the Rays have been forced to press young starters into duty such as Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Jake Odorizzi.
Clearly, all three have the stuff to be solid Major League starters, but all three have struggled to some degree with command. And a component of that struggle can be attributed to facing Major League hitters, who won't chase pitches outside the strike zone that Minor Leaguers normally would.
"It's a huge difference," said Archer, who pitched six strong innings against the Yankees on Sunday to pick up his second win of the season. "But it's a part of competing at this level. If you're ahead in the count, they might be more willing to bite. But if you're behind, they're not going to swing, ever."
Like Archer, Colome has noticed a dramatic difference.
"This is something different, because in Triple-A, the hitters, we throw a couple of pitches and they swing, everything a ball," said Colome, who has made two starts for the Rays. "Here in the big leagues, the hitter up there [is looking] to swing at one pitch. Like they're looking for fastball, they're waiting for fastball."
Teams in AL East making division ultra competitive
ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time this season, all five teams in the American League East entered play Monday night at least two games above .500.
Since the current divisional format began in 1994, only one other time has the AL East had all five teams two games above .500 at this point of the season, and that occurred last season when all five were as late as July 4.
Only one other time since 1994 has any division had all of its teams two games over .500 this deep in the season. In 2005, all five National League East teams were two games over .500 on Sept. 30.
"I really think that it's like an ointment -- [playing in the AL East] pulls the best out of you [and] the rest of the teams in this division, and you've got to be ready every night," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You've got to be on your best baseball behavior. You've got to really compete to survive. So I think it brings out the best in all of us, whether it's managers, coaches or players. The competition, the venues, all of that really is fascinating, and the only place to play."
Price to pitch for Class A Charlotte on Wednesday
ST. PETERSBURG -- After allowing just two hits in his first rehab start on Friday, Rays ace David Price will make another appearance for Class A Charlotte on Wednesday.
Manager Joe Maddon said Monday it "wasn't impossible" that Wednesday's appearance could be Price's last before returning from the disabled list, where he has been since May 16 when he strained his left triceps in the third inning of a game against Boston.
Price threw 49 pitches (29 strikes) in 2 1/3 innings on Friday, allowing one earned run, striking out four and walking two.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.