First there was a teasing hint on the Durham Bulls’ Web site. And today the columnist Jayson Stark more or less announced that David Price will start the season in Durham. There’s no official word yet from the Tampa front office, but if they’re letting the nation’s leading sports news outlet bruit this rumor about, it’s hard to think it isn’t true. There are several reasons for the decision, and each of them contains a modicum of sensible (or at least expedient) thinking. Taken together, they almost add up to a good idea.

Just to hammer home what a big deal this is: David Price was the number one pick of the entire 2007 draft. His natural talent is unthinkably rare. Last year he rocketed through the Rays’ farm system and, by playoff time, was the major league team’s closer. He coolly got the last four outs of the pennant-clinching win over Boston. He pitched well in the World Series, too, and by the time the Fall Classic was over, he had already been anointed the Next Big Thing.

And he’s starting the season in Durham. In order to improve.

If you’re reading this, then you’re interested in baseball. If you don’t go watch Price pitch at DBAP, then you aren’t. [ED. NOTE: For more on the reasoning behind returning Price to Durham, read Sobsey’s post from a month ago.]

In much, much glummer news, the Indy’s favorite Bulland pride of the (Columbia) LionsFernando Perez, will miss at least four months (and perhaps the whole season) with a severe ligament injury to his wrist. He apparently did the damage diving to make a catch, and the culprit may have been (ugh) a new and larger glove he was trying out that caught in the turf. So not only will Fernando not be playing in Durham any time soon, it isn’t even because he’ll be a Tampa Bay Ray.

We wish him a recovery time of miraculous brevity, knowing that if there’s anyone who can get anywhere faster than anyone thought possible, it’s Fernando.