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Rays' pitching again pleases Joe Maddon

BRADENTON — For the second straight game, manager Joe Maddon couldn't have been happier with his pitching.

And it wasn't just due to ace LHP David Price, who made his spring debut Saturday.

Price looked and felt good in a 12/3-inning outing Saturday. The Rays relievers allowed one run in a 2-2 10-inning tie with the Pirates.

"The pitching was fantastic," Maddon said. "The entire bullpen was exceptional."

Price said he wished he had gotten ahead of more hitters in a 33-pitch appearance, but he was encouraged by how he felt physically and said he's ahead of his usual spring training pace. He was charged with one run (because of an RBI double given up by LHP Jeff Beliveau) and one hit (a single off the glove of 3B Logan Forsythe). Maddon said he didn't know Price's velocity but saw a lot of movement and some solid changeups.

"I thought he looked really good," Maddon said.

RHP Alex Colome, competing for the fifth starter spot, impressively worked out of a jam in the sixth, retiring the side after allowing a leadoff triple (on a ball lost in the sun by CF Justin Christian). "Colome was as sharp as anybody," Maddon said.

LHP Jake McGee continued to develop his curveball in his 13-pitch fourth. Maddon praised RHP Brad Boxberger, who struck out two in a hitless fifth. "They got bad looks at him," Maddon said. RHP Mark Lowe, battling for a bullpen spot, gave up a solo homer in the third but was pleased with his slider, a pitch Maddon said has been "incredible" this spring.

FIRST TIMERS: Minor-league INF Cameron Seitzer, playing in his first Grapefruit League game, hit a tying solo homer in the ninth, a blast off the rightfield boardwalk. "I heard he was a line-drive hitter that uses the whole field, kind of a (James) Loney description," Maddon said. "And he just jumped all over that." 3B Richie Shaffer, the Rays' first-round draft pick in 2012, also played in his first exhibition game, drawing a walk and striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth.

CATCHING ON: Maddon said C Ryan Hanigan will catch more than 50 percent of the regular-season games but he doesn't know how much more he'll get than C Jose Molina. "Maybe it'll be 51 percent?" Maddon said. "I'm not sure." Maddon said with Hanigan and Molina being "elite receivers," it will be easier to split up the games. One key difference from last year's platoon with Molina and C Jose Lobaton is that "the disparity regarding how you're going to view them both catching the same guy will be smaller."

MISCELLANY: DH Wil Myers went 0-for-2 but reached on an error, and Hanigan picked up a double in his Rays debut. … Maddon said 2B Ben Zobrist (back) will likely play in his first exhibition game Monday, Tuesday "at the latest." … Maddon said he had heard nothing new about RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo and INF Wilson Betemit, both delayed in the Dominican Republic due to visa issues.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Rays' pitching again pleases Joe Maddon 03/01/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 1, 2014 11:50pm]
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