ST. PETERSBURG — Having returned so impressively Tuesday from a seven-week stint on the disabled list with a triceps strain, LHP David Price takes the mound today with newfound perspective.
The time off, he said, may have been good for him, at least mentally.
"I think the injury was kind of a blessing in disguise for me to get out of my own head, to let myself relax for a little while and get back to the way I can throw the baseball," Price said.
Also, it seemed to reduce the possibility, however slim, that he could be traded by the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals and at least quieted the accompanying speculation, which can be taxing as well.
"It might have taken me out of the trade conversations, and that's fine with me," he said. "I've seen us go through that month before the trade deadline and trades being talked about, and I've seen how that affects different people.
"When you're in a setting like this (with the Rays), you kind of want it to last as long as possible. And me being hurt might have helped that case. So we'll see how that goes."
On Tuesday in Houston, Price (2-4, 4.65 ERA) worked seven shutout innings and struck out 10 (eight looking) while throwing only 70 pitches. He raved about how good he felt.
"It was what I needed and what the team needed," Price said. "It was a good first game back, and I'm looking forward to building on it (today). … Everything feels good, feels back to normal, and I'm excited for (today)."
Manager Joe Maddon said Price will be limited to 90 to 100 pitches today against the White Sox, depending on how the game goes.
"Pretty much go ahead and just pitch. Let us watch how you're pitching and see if it's stressful or not and how you're reacting to it, that kind of thing," Maddon said.
HE IS THIRD: As far as text messages from players, Maddon acknowledged he got a pretty good one Saturday. Evan Longoria responded to a morning query about DH-ing by saying he felt good enough to play third base Saturday and today.
Longoria played the field Friday for the first time since tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot a week earlier.
"Everything went well, and I should be in there from here on out, hopefully," Longoria said. "The way it feels (Saturday) after (Friday) night being the first night I was in there, it feels just the same as it did (Friday), if not a little bit better. So it's definitely a positive."
Maddon said, however, he will keep a close watch and there likely will be DH days mixed in for Longoria.
LEANING LEFT: 1B James Loney was on a career-best 16-game hitting streak and has a .372 average that is second-best in the majors for a lefty hitter against lefty pitchers. But Maddon didn't put him in the lineup, a nod to just how tough Sox starter Chris Sale can be. Sean Rodriguez started at first, and Loney was a defensive replacement but didn't bat, so the streak remains intact.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Limited to deals of $250,000 after exceeding their pool limits last year, the Rays signed three 16-year-old international free agents from the Dominican Republic: C Rafelin Lorenzo and shortstops Carlos Guzman and Juan Santos.
MISCELLANY: LHP Matt Moore has a 2.34 ERA with Jose Lobaton behind the plate, 5.45 when throwing to Jose Molina. … LHP Jake McGee is the seventh Rays pitcher to have a one-pitch outing that got two outs. … The Rays logged their third shutout in six days and 10th overall, matching Cleveland for the AL lead. … Longoria said he meant nothing, and had no specific reason, for his mid Saturday Twitter post: "Thieves are the worst kind of people."