There's a great scene in the movie For Love of the Game, where fictitious Detroit Tigers' pitcher Billy Chapel is desperately trying to calm his nerves on the mound.
To do so, Chapel mentally goes back to a time when he's playing catch in the backyard with his father as a youngster. "Just throw the ball in the glove son," the man says. "Just play catch." Reciting this moment helps Chapel, played by Kevin Costner, to relax and ease into the beginning of his start.
Ironically enough, that start comes in New York and Chapel wears the number 14. His moment on the hill in Yankee Stadium, though a creation of director Sam Raimi, won't be unlike what David Price will face tonight as the Tigers take on the Yankees in game two of a four game set.
Price will be making his first start as a Tiger, and as many have already pointed out, the goal seems to be World Series or bust as it relates to his addition. The media's saying it and the front office certainly hasn't backed down from stating the goal behind the move was winning immediately.
All of that, plus the move to a new city with new teammates can really take a toll on man and make him think. It's no surprise, then, that Price was a little nervous in Detroit while throwing a bullpen session. Still, despite the obvious nerves, Price has done a good job keeping his wits about him with quality perspective.
"I don't add any extra pressure," Price said Saturday in reference to becoming one more member of a suddenly star-studded pitching staff. "I want to have fun on the field."
Relaxing and having fun will be the key to everything for Price. Over thinking the significance of Tuesday's start is pointless. Price isn't trying to help the Tigers rebound from Monday's loss or help them make a statement to the mighty Yankees in the cathedral of baseball, he's simply going out to have fun with his new teammates while playing a game of catch. That's it.
As for all the World Series aspirations, that's a conversation for another day. Dave Dombrowski and Brad Ausmus have routinely said the goal is making it to the playoffs first. The Tigers still have a fight within their division, and nothing has been decided yet as it results to that.
The best way for the Tigers to take those next steps is with a relaxed Price. The world isn't on his shoulders, and one start in August, good or bad, won't write the book on his entire Detroit career this year or next.
"I try to focus on the now," Price said of the lofty expectations. "When you focus on six months or 18 months from now, that means you're not focusing on what you're trying to do right now." Clearly, Price gets how to balance it out.
As Chapel's dad might say, all Price has to do on Tuesday night is throw the ball into the glove and play a simple game of catch.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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