Standing in front of his locker on Sunday, discussing the Rays' upcoming series against the Tigers at Tropicana Field, Chris Archer feigned confusion as the inevitable topic was brought up.
A reporter began to ask the question -- "David Price, of course, is gonna be in the other dugout…" -- and Archer quickly interrupted.
"Who?" he asked. "What?" And finally, in mock astonishment: "Wow!"
Then he added a more serious comment.
"I think that everybody in the clubhouse is beyond the 'weird factor,' the strangeness of it," Archer said. "It is what it is. It is what it's gonna be. I'm not really gonna be thinking about who's in the other dugout, to be honest with you."
Price, of course, was sent to the Tigers at the 2014 Trade Deadline as part of a three-team deal that brought Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to Tampa Bay. A few short weeks later, the Rays' former ace will be making his return to The Trop in another team's uniform.
Price won't be starting against Archer on Tuesday -- he's slated for Thursday's series finale. Instead, Archer's opponent will be the reigning American League Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer.
In the Rays and Tigers' first meeting of 2014, in early July, both Archer and Scherzer pitched, and both won. Archer went 8 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, to beat Detroit on July 5. Scherzer went eight and allowed just one run in the Tigers' only win of the four-game series on July 3.
Tampa Bay and Detroit both dropped important series over the weekend, with the Rays dropping two of three to the division rival Yankees and the Tigers losing two of three to fellow playoff contender Seattle.
Rays: No matter their standing, Rays looking to finish strong
After Sunday's loss to the Yankees, the Rays find themselves 10 games back of the division-leading Orioles in the AL East and 6 1/2 games behind Seattle in the Wild Card standings.
While their situation looks dire, the Rays still have a shot at making the playoffs and regardless of whether they make the playoffs, they want to finish strong so they have some momentum heading into next season.
"Finishing strong is very important," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's who we are now. We're not just trying to be a .500 ballclub. Our goal is to get there.
"We just need to perpetuate who we are. We don't want to slide back even for one year. Right now we've had one of the best records over the last two months. That's how it's supposed to be. I think we need to [finish strong] or we slide backwards."
Tigers: Nathan moves past controversy with 25th save
After directing a chin flick toward Tigers fans following an appearance on Wednesday, Joe Nathan was going to have to get back on the mound and face the boos at Comerica Park eventually. David Price's home debut as a Tiger Saturday night, with a three-run lead, seemed like as good a time as any.
"I knew my nerves would be a little extra," Nathan said. "When I was apologizing, I've never been a part of any type of controversy, and I will not be a part of it again."
The boos began, albeit just a few, before Nathan had made it from the bullpen to the mound. They multiplied before he began warming, then really picked up upon introduction. A leadoff single amplified them. Each time, the boos would start and eventually stop for the next at-bat, though they would resume at some point.
The runner eventually scored, but Nathan held it there, getting a game-ending double play to finish off a 4-2 win. And as the boos turned to cheers for a big win finished, there was no chin-flick, no look into the stands.
"I held it in," Nathan said. "I definitely didn't want to have any reaction tonight, kind of just get back to trying to finish games, try to keep my emotions in check. But I knew it was important, my first time back on the mound since the incident."
• Rays left fielder David DeJesus (left hand fracture) had some soreness in his hand Sunday after going 0-for-1 with a walk in two plate appearances in his first rehab game for the Gulf Coast League Rays on Saturday. DeJesus will ease off his rehab for a few days before moving on to play for Class A Advanced Charlotte, possibly on Wednesday.
• Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks (back surgery) restarted his rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A Toledo, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single and two strikeouts while playing five innings in left field. A left hamstring strain had briefly put his rehab on hold.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.