ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays say top draft pick LHP David Price's elbow injury isn't serious but is enough of a problem that his pro debut is likely to be delayed about six weeks.
Price was diagnosed with what the team said is a muscle strain in his left elbow, sustained while pitching in a minor-league game Thursday. He'll be shut down from throwing for an undetermined period then need time to build up his arm to be ready for regular-season duty.
"The good news is that obviously it's nothing significant," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "We had that sense pretty soon after it happened, but it's always good to get confirmation. Hearing the report, the biggest delay is just going to be in terms of building him back up, not necessarily getting him healthy."
Price, who hasn't been in a regular-season game since June 1 for Vanderbilt, was sidelined early in spring training with shoulder stiffness. He was to make his debut for Class A Vero Beach but is likely to remain in St. Petersburg into at least mid May for extended spring training.
ZOBRIST UNHEALED: INF Ben Zobrist is headed to the 15-day disabled list after an exam showed his fractured left thumb was "not fully healed."
Zobrist, who will be re-examined Monday, hasn't been able to swing a bat since the March 9 injury, so even when he is cleared to resume activity, he might need a week of minor-league at-bats to be ready. (By backdating his DL move to March 21, he could be eligible to return April 5.)
With Zobrist out, INF Eliot Johnson appears the favorite to take the superutility job, but there is some concern over his ability to play shortstop, where he is scheduled to start today. INF Andy Cannizaro, who has been sidelined by a back injury, is the other in-camp option.
Relievers Chad Orvella (right shoulder) and Kurt Birkins (left elbow) are likely to open the season on the DL as well, along with LHP Scott Kazmir and OF Rocco Baldelli.
PERSONNEL DEPT.: SS Reid Brignac was reassigned to minor-league camp, having homered in his final at-bat. … INF/OF Eric Hinske, making an impressive bid for a bench job with a .373 average (including a homer and a stolen base Monday), will get another look at third base today.
MISCELLANY: OF Jonny Gomes' appeal of his two-game suspension will be heard April 4 in New York, leaving him eligible for the March 31 opener. … RHP Edwin Jackson settled down after a rough first inning to go seven as the Rays beat the Pirates 13-4, extending their spring record to 16 wins. … RHP Grant Balfour again looked better than RHP Scott Dohmann in the battle for the last bullpen spot. … Kazmir felt good after another session of playing catch, but manager Joe Maddon said there was still no date for him to return to the mound. … Carlos Pena received his 2007 team MVP and Paul C. Smith Champion awards from the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association.