The Buffalo Bisons have faced off against Major League players down in Triple-A while on a rehabilitation stint before. That's nothing new.
But it's not so often they run into a situation like they will Friday when the Herd opens a three-game series with the Pawtucket Red Sox at Coca-Cola Field.
The PawSox are scheduled to start David Price in Buffalo as the Boston Red Sox starter and 2012 Cy Young Award winner makes his first rehab start. He is scheduled to throw 90 pitches in his first outing since suffering an elbow injury in spring training.
Pawtucket's lineup will also include Pablo Sandoval as its designated hitter. Sandoval, returning from a right knee sprain, is also making his first rehab start.
That leads to this fun fact courtesy of the Boston Herald: The Triple-A payroll for the PawSox will total more than $70 million thanks to Price ($30 million salary in 2017) and Sandoval ($17 million) with Brock Holt ($1.95 million) also on MLB rehab along with Allen Craig ($11 million) and Rusney Castillo ($10.5 million) who were demoted earlier this season. By comparison, the entire Tampa Bay Rays payroll was less than $70 million on Opening Day.
The feature of Friday evening will be facing Price, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays for the second half of the 2015 season. The Boston Red Sox signed the starter that off-season to a seven-year deal.
Is this an opportunity for Bisons hitters to show what they can do against a big-league starter?
"Yes and no," said Bisons first baseman Rowdy Tellez. "We just focus on trying to put swings on everybody and win. But again, it's David Price. It's cool. It's one of those days where you get to see what it's like a day in the big leagues. You face a current ace of a staff, a guy that's really established really good pitching and he's been good for his whole career. It's going to be fun to go out there and play against that and battle and really show that we're big-league ready."
That's the type of attitude Bisons manager Bobby Meacham looks from his players. Back in his playing days, Meacham would take these types of opportunities, whether it was against MLB rehabbers or when scouts came to watch another player, to offer his best game.
"I used to always thing there's two different types of players mentally," Meacham said. "When everybody's in town and GM's there and the farm director or whoever, even in high school when the scouts in the stands, there's two types of players. One says I hope I do good for these guys. The other one is saying I get to show these guys how good I am. The ones that say I get to show these guys, they're the ones that are usually going to make it. They're the ones not getting too hyped up but are up to the challenge of being at their best."
While the Bisons on the field will be facing a challenge, the Bisons front office has been seizing the opportunity as well, promoting the big league guys coming through Buffalo.
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) May 18, 2017
The start by Price coincides with the Bisons recurring fridaynightbash! promotion. While the first pitch is at 7:05, the ceremonial first pitch will be tossed by new Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Meanwhile the traditional Resurgence Brewing Happy Hour with food and drink and specials has been extended, beginning when gates open at 5 p.m. and continuing through 8 p.m.