ST. PETERSBURG — There may be a reason besides some bad pitching for LHP David Price's rough start this season.
Price acknowledged Tuesday that his vision has been affected by severe allergy problems — due, at least in part, to the chemicals used to do laundry in the Rays clubhouse.
Could that be a cause of his struggles, a 1-3 record, 4.78 ERA and .287 opponents average through eight starts?
"I would never say yes, but I can't see," Price said. "There's been many times this year when I've had to step off the mound 'cause I can't see the signs. All the trainers know I couldn't see. My vision was extremely blurry at times."
Price, who starts tonight, has had allergy issues for a while, but said the symptoms have been worse this year, and he had a severe bout in spring training. He saw an allergy specialist Tuesday and received eye drops that he said seems to make an immediate difference, along with a nasal spray. He also showed off the 50-plus needle marks (including 20-some on his valuable left arm) that came with another round of testing.
"I was allergic to everything I knew I was already allergic to," he said. "We were just trying to figure out for my eyes — I can't see anything, everything's blurry."
Price said part of the problem — uncovered by clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland — is a new chemical mix in the injection system for the laundry machinery in the clubhouse. He said the transfer to shirts, towels and other gear resulted in a rash and hives on his arms, neck and head.
As a precaution, all of Price's clothes, workout gear and an assortment of towels are now washed separately.
"It's been terrible … it's ridiculous," Price said. "Hopefully it'll get better."
Price also has more standard allergy issues related to the environment, and said he had particular troubles in Kansas City and Colorado during the last road trip.
Manager Joe Maddon, who also has severe allergy issues (specifically with tree pollen) said he can relate.
"It's really no fun," Maddon said. "You get headaches, it's kind of a funky day when your allergies are really kicking in. … When it's bad I don't think anything helps, I'm convinced of that, because I've tried it all. When it's really awful, it's awful. Just concentration-wise, it's not that easy. Literally, your head feels like a block of cement.
"David doesn't make excuses; I'd like to believe nobody around here makes excuses. I'm just saying that there is contributing factors there."
LONEY AT THE TOP: 1B James Loney had two more hits, increasing his average to a major-league best .381, and .458 over his past 25 games.
BACK IN ACTION: CF Desmond Jennings was in the lineup for the first time since Thursday after getting the weekend off because of a sore groin, going 0-for-4. "I walked in today, Desmond gave me two thumbs up, he felt really good, it's nice to see that," Maddon said.
IN A WORD: Maddon on 3B Evan Longoria winning AL player of the week, after hitting .464 with three homers and 11 RBIs: "Justified." Also, "I don't know who did better last week. He was pretty outstanding."
MISCELLANY: The bullpen has gone 162/3 innings without allowing an earned run, Fernando Rodney striking out the side (for the first time since May 1, 2012) for his seventh save.… The Rays have come from behind in their past six wins, and have led in their past 26 games, including 10 losses. … The Rays batted around for the fifth time in their past eight games after doing so one time in their first 30. … David Ortiz's homer was his 27th at the Trop, most among visitors. … RHP Jeff Ames improved to 5-0 with a 1.22 ERA at Class A Bowling Green.