PORT CHARLOTTE — Before taking the mound Sunday, Rays LHP David Price told pitching coach Jim Hickey he wished it was their March 31 opening day.
Then he went out and — again — pitched like it, throwing 91 pitches while working into the seventh inning of an 8-4 win over Boston.
Price seemed to have everything he'd want in a regular-season game: a fastball clocked repeatedly at 95 mph, good command and control and a slider that manager Joe Maddon said is showing more depth and break than in recent seasons.
"He was outstanding," Maddon said. "He had everything going on."
Allowing Price to work into the seventh was a bit surprising, but Maddon said it was something Price and Hickey wanted to do to build for conditioning purposes.
Price said, as he did last week, that he has felt better this spring than in recent years. But after allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out seven, he insisted there was still some work to be done over his two remaining spring starts, such as consistency, physically and mentally, and shutting down innings. Plus he wasn't happy with hitting leadoff man Jackie Bradley Jr. after getting two strikes on him.
"I can definitely improve on a lot of stuff," Price said.
MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Wil Myers said his bruised right leg — struck by a foul ball Saturday — felt better when he woke up Sunday than he expected and he is looking to return to action Tuesday: "I'm fine." … INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, who last played Wednesday, has been limited by a tight left hamstring; he is expected to bat in a minor-league game Tuesday.
OVIEDO A LONGSHOT: RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo looked sharp in throwing his first bullpen session after finally reporting to camp Saturday, but Maddon said the Rays will proceed slowly. He won't pitch in a game until the end of this week and it's now "probably a longshot" — though not impossible — for him to be on the opening day roster.
The Rays have reason to be cautious, since Oviedo hasn't pitched in the majors since September 2011, missing most of that time recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. And though he was throwing regularly in the Dominican Republic during his lengthy visa delay, he wasn't able to follow the Rays' usual post-workout arm exercise protocol, so they want him to work through batting practices before getting into game situations.
PITCHING IN: RHP Alex Cobb got the bad draw, his scheduled start falling on today's team off day. He was to go to Fort Myers to pitch in a minor-league game vs. the Twins, but due to the potential for rain he will instead throw in a 10 a.m. simulated game in Port Charlotte. … RHP Chris Archer won't face the AL East rival Orioles as slotted Wednesday and instead will pitch in a minor-league game, as will RHP Grant Balfour. RHP Mark Lowe, making a strong bid for a relief job, will start vs. Baltimore. … Maddon said they were getting closer to a deciding on the fifth starter, but he wasn't sure if it would come before the candidates — RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHPs Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos — took their next turn, which would be Thursday.
GAME DETAILS: 1B James Loney had three hits and, after a scoring change took away an error by Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks, five RBIs. … The Rays (11-4-2) also got RBI hits from CF David DeJesus (hitting .556, 10-for-18) and 2B Ben Zobrist. … INF/OF Logan Forsythe made his first spring appearance in leftfield memorable with a diving catch of a Mike Napoli liner. "Had to be the first one, right?" he said.
MISCELLANY: Sunday's crowd of 7,852 was the first sellout of this season and largest in stadium history; a 2010 game vs. the Yankees drew 7,834.