In October, Tampa Bay Rays rookie David Price was pitching in playoff and World Series games.
But despite a 1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 playoff innings, Price -- a left-hander with a fastball in the high 90s -- will start his season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls, whose season opens April 9 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
He was optioned to the Bulls on Wednesday.
"We have obviously spent a lot of time talking about this," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "When we came into camp, we came in with an open mind, knowing full well that there were certain developmental issues that we wanted him to focus on and also the workload. And just the increase and how we're going to monitor that.
As one of the Tampa Bay's top prospects, the team wants Price to continue developing his changeup and fastball, so he'll have any kinks ironed out by September.
The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, Price, a left-hander, was called up last season and earned his first big league win and save -- in Game 7 -- in the American League Championship Series.
Price, 23, pitched 139 1/3 innings between the minors and the Rays in 2008. The team wants to ensure he doesn't exceed that total by more than 20 percent this season.
By starting Price at Durham, the Rays can monitor his innings and pitch count.
"We had a lot of conversations about ways to get creative," Friedman said, "and went through it for the last two or three weeks at length and ultimately decided that, all things considered, that this was the right move for David and in turn the organization."
Friedman expects Price to rejoin the Rays later in the season to help the club make a playoff push.
"David will help us win games in 2009," Friedman said.