Price's Yankees hair comment bristles some

PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP David Price's love for his beard left him facing questions Thursday about a perceived dislike of the Yankees.

After being quoted in a foxsports.com piece saying he wouldn't want to sign with the Yankees due to their no-facial-hair policy, Price found himself in the middle of a controversy, fueled by Twitter comments and the New York tabloids.

Thursday, he tried to explain.

"It probably wasn't the best thing to say, but I didn't mean anything by it," Price said. "I wasn't looking to offend the Yankees. It's probably the best organization in all of sports. Not just baseball, but all of sports. I didn't mean anything (against) the New York Yankees."

What he was trying to do, he said, was point out how much he liked the freedoms of playing for the Rays and manager Joe Maddon.

"I was talking about Joe. I was talking about the way we do everything over here. How he lets us be comfortable in our own skin. And that's what I was referring to," Price said.

"I love it here. Everybody loves it. I love everything from the trainers to the food guys to the clubbies. It's just unique. … It's not about going to a powerhouse, it's about being comfortable where you play. That's not a slap in the face to the New York Yankees. It's about me."

Price, 27, joked that he loves his beard, "at least another year."

But as for 2016?

"That's three years from now," he said. "My hair might fall out!"

WORLD VIEW: LHP Alex Torres was named to Venezuela's team for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Torres followed a brutal 2012 season at Triple-A Durham (3-7, 7.30 ERA and dropped from the rotation) with a slightly better showing in winter ball (2-4, 4.48).

Torres is the fifth Ray scheduled to participate, along with RHP Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic), INF/OF Ben Zobrist (United States), C Jose Molina (Puerto Rico) and LHP Cesar Ramos (Mexico). Also, two minor-leaguers are playing for Brazil: INFs Leonardo Reginatto and Iago Januario.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The Rays are likely to have all prearbitration players signed by their Saturday deadline with the exception of RHP Jeremy Hellickson. The Scott Boras client said he likely will reject their offer and be renewed, at a $5,000 reduction, as he was last year. The MLB minimum salary increased to $490,000 this season, and the Rays slot their players in a range believed to be topped at $510,000.

PITCHING IN: RHP Kyle Farns­worth skipped Wednesday's batting practice due to "abnormal soreness" but played catch Thursday with no problems, Maddon said. … Hellickson limited his batting practice session to 20-25 pitches (and mostly fastballs) because he will throw another bullpen session before making his exhibition debut Wednesday. … RHP Juan Sandoval, who has been getting lots of media attention as his story of being blind in one eye spread, threw well Thursday.

MISCELLANY: Today's workout is closed to the public as it will be held on the stadium field. There is no intrasquad game because the team has a split-squad opener Saturday. … RHPs Chris Archer, Alex Cobb and Brandon Gomes will be guests at today's Manatee Chamber lunch at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.

Times staff writer Tom Jones contributed to this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Price's Yankees hair comment bristles some 02/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:34pm]

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