PORT CHARLOTTE — AL Cy Young-winning LHP David Price said he feels right physically, and his stuff is good.
But after taking 89 pitches to go five innings in Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Twins and allowing three runs, two earned, on nine hits, the Rays' ace said he's "still searching right now" and has "hit a wall."
With one week left in camp, what's he still searching for?
"Just that feeling out there on the mound," Price said. "It's a mind-set. You feel like you take it every time out there, and I feel like this last week, I've hit a wall. In spring training, it happens. It does. I can work as hard as I can when I get out there in the bullpens, and on the mound I feel like, 'Blah.' That's part of it. Whenever you get out there in front of 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 people, it kind of works its way out."
Price was just happy to be in a big-league exhibition, with his previous two starts coming in minor-league games on the team's off days; Monday's rain-disrupted outing had to be moved to the batting cage.
But though Price struck out seven and was encouraged that he got himself out of a few jams, he was disappointed with his efficiency. In the fourth, Price had two quick strikeouts and two strikes on Dan Rholfing but ended up giving up two singles and two walks in a two-run rally. "That's normally not going to happen," manager Joe Maddon said.
Maddon said that otherwise, Price was normal, with a really good curveball. Price wasn't concerned, saying it wasn't until his fourth start of the regular season in last year's Cy Young campaign that "everything clicked for me."
He is scheduled to have one more exhibition start and believes he'll be ready for opening day.
"I feel fine," he said. "In my last two spring trainings I've felt a lot worse than what I feel right now. So that's good."
MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Kyle Farnsworth was pulled from the game as a precaution after bruising his right middle finger while trying to barehand a ground ball.
Farnsworth regretted reaching with his pitching hand, saying it was a "reaction play." But he said he believes he'll be fine and that if it were a regular-season game, he would have stayed in. Making the second of back-to-back appearances and sixth overall, Farnsworth said the injury won't impact his opening day availability.
"You've got to get the hand out of the way; it's really not bright," Maddon said. "Live to pitch another inning."
ROSTER, ETC: The team made its next wave of cuts, reassigning INF Cole Figueroa, INF Leslie Anderson, OF Rich Thompson, RHP Kirby Yates and RHP Dane De La Rosa to minor-league camp. It also released veteran OF/DH Jack Cust, who signed after camp started and went 4-for-23 in 10 games. Maddon said with no available slots in Triple A, the Rayswanted to give Cust a chance to catch on with another team. The roster is down to 32 players.
MISCELLANY: OF Sam Fuld said he'll play five innings in the field during a minor-league game today in Port Charlotte. … C Jose Lobaton hit his first homer and had a single, giving him nine hits in 16 spring games.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]