PORT CHARLOTTE — All Rays ace LHP David Price got out of Monday was a bad mood.
Price cut short a scheduled minor-league outing after one messy 37-pitch inning due to rain and a slick mound, saying he was "absolutely" concerned about injury, the field conditions were "absolutely terrible" and that pitching in it was "stupid."
"When you throw every pitch and your foot slides 5-6 inches, it's not safe," Price said.
Light rain began to fall as Price started pitching in a Triple-A game on a back field at the Charlotte Sports Park, and conditions deteriorated quickly. He ended up allowing a run on one hit and three walks and struck out three, with 19 strikes in the 37 pitches (including his first curveballs) before deciding he'd had enough; the game was called shortly afterward. Price was pitching in a minor-league game for the second straight outing to stay on a five-day schedule for the April 2 opener.
"I'm soaking wet, my cleats weigh 20 pounds … we wouldn't have started (a major-league game) in those conditions, and it's rough," Price said. "Everyone wants to get their work in, obviously, in the countdown to opening day, and you want to be ready for it, but today wasn't the right way to do it."
Price went with assistant pitching coach Stan Boroski to the indoor batting cage to throw another 34 pitches — "I continued to walk people (there) as well," Price said — and got in enough work that he'll stay on schedule, with his last two exhibition starts slated for Saturday and March 28.
Price said he was concerned the Field 1 mound was too hard when he pitched there Wednesday (noting that prospect Jake Odorizzi fell when he pitched) and praised the grounds crew for working on it, but he said the rain created more problems.
Price, whose frustration was visible, and audible, on the mound, said there was nothing good to take out of the experience though his arm "felt great."
STRETCH RUN: With 12 exhibitions remaining, expect to see regulars play deeper into games to get more at-bats, relievers used more frequently and some situational plays (such as steals, bunts, defensive shifts) which manager Joe Maddon admits he was holding back on. Also look for the starting infielders and outfielders to play together and for Maddon to start experimenting with some potential batting order combinations.
MISCELLANY: Ben Zobrist is scheduled to start at shortstop, Luke Scott in rightfield and Chris Gimenez at first base today in Lakeland. … Jaye Maddon, wife of Joe, leaves today on her cross-country RV trip from Long Beach, Calif., to Tampa, seeing penny-a-mile pledges at PetPatAnimalShelter.com.