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Rays' Longoria braced for latest battle vs. ex-mate Price (w/video)

BOSTON — Evan Longoria had lunch Wednesday with David Price, sharing some pho and good times at a Vietnamese restaurant near Fenway Park.

Today they resume what both consider an awkward battle, a byproduct of Price being traded in July 2014, two buddies who came up as pillars of the Rays' transformation now facing off for the fourth time.

In two starts for the Tigers and one for the Blue Jays against the Rays, Price is 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA. In nine at-bats against Price, Longoria is 0-for-9 with three strikeouts.

"Hopefully for me it gets a little bit easier," Longoria said. "I've had my struggles with him when he was in Toronto and Detroit. It was awkward at first, so hopefully I can get a little more accustomed to what he does as a pitcher and make it a little bit easier to have some success."

That Price is now with the rival Red Sox, having signed on for seven years and $217 million, doesn't change the dynamics as much as him just not being with the Rays.

"I don't enjoy pitching against friends or former teammates or team, but it's something I knew I had to prepare for when I signed to play in Boston, pitching against Tampa (Bay) and Toronto," Price said.

"It's something I've got to be able to get over. I did a good job of that a couple days ago pitching against the Blue Jays (seven innings and a win), so I want to do the same thing pitching against Tampa (Bay)."

Price, 30, said he will always relish his time with the Rays, which included his 2008 playoffs baptismal against the Red Sox and the 2012 AL Cy Young Award.

"Absolutely," Price said. "That's the organization that took a chance on me and did a lot of things for me. I grew both on a personal level and in the game of baseball during my time there. It's always fun to see those guys."

The remaining Rays, including most of the coaching staff, look forward to seeing Price, though more so on days he is not pitching.

"It's weird to see him in red, for sure," RHP Chris Archer said.

Price said he did have one issue with Longoria. When they met July 28, Price kidded Longoria during warmups that he would hit a weak grounder that Price would field, tag him, and they would hug right on the first-base line.

"I did it," Price said. "And then he backed away from me. That was upsetting. And he knows that."

Longoria said he did. "I was so upset I swung at the pitch I completely forget he said he would try and hug me if I hit a comebacker. … I wish I would have done it. It would have been a pretty funny moment. He's always been that kind of guy — even in the heat of battle, he knows how to have fun."

REHAB REPORT: RH closer Brad Boxberger, continuing his recovery from core muscle surgery, is slated to advance to throwing from halfway up the mound this weekend, eyeing a mid May return. … RHPs Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley, recovering from May 2015 Tommy John surgeries, moved up to throw from the top of the mound for the first time Tuesday in St. Petersburg. … Two other Tommy John rehabbers made progress in Port Charlotte: RHP Neil Wagner, a former Blue Jay, making his first game appearance with one inning in an extended spring contest, hitting 92-93 mph; and LHP Jonny Venters, the former Braves All-Star, throwing his first live batting practice.

MISCELLANY: No official announcement, but RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who picked up the win in relief Tuesday and was in the bullpen Wednesday, is likely to start Saturday. … Manager Kevin Cash reiterated it wouldn't be "fair" this early in the season "to make drastic" changes in the lineup despite some early struggles, such as 1B Logan Morrison going 2-for-37. … Longoria went 0-for-4 to end a 15-game hitting streak at Fenway Park. … C Hank Conger started; Curt Casali had started the previous four games. … First-pitch temperature was 48 degrees.

David Price, left, and Evan Longoria are rivals now but remain friends after together helping establish the Rays as an AL East power.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2008)

David Price, left, and Evan Longoria are rivals now but remain friends after together helping establish the Rays as an AL East power.

Rays' Longoria braced for latest battle vs. ex-mate Price (w/video) 04/20/16 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:50am]
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