ST. PETERSBURG — Whether it was going to be a war as David Ortiz suggested or just another intense battle, tonight's anticipated rematch between still-Rays ace David Price and the Red Sox DH might not happen.
Ortiz left Boston's Thursday loss in Toronto with what he said was a back spasm and is questionable for tonight's game, pending an afternoon exam.
"Hopefully it's nothing serious," Ortiz said. "They want to make sure (today) I don't have the same feeling."
Tonight was to be their first meeting since May 30, when Price hit Ortiz with a pitch, sparking a wild night that included four Red Sox ejections and several exchanges of words — and mutual claims of lost respect — between the two main attractions.
Asked if he anticipated any fallout from the last meeting, Ortiz told Boston writers, "Why should I? I'm not the one who's pitching."
Price said he didn't expect any carryover, but …
"I said right after the (May 30) game it was done," he said. "I want to get outs, absolutely. Still going to pitch him inside. That's part of the game."
Home boy: Having become kings of the road with a 16-3 record over their past three trips, the Rays are hoping to regain what used to be a significant homefield advantage at the Trop.
And 3B Evan Longoria would like your help.
Tonight begins a key nine-game homestand against the Red Sox, Brewers and Angels with a 22-28 record at the Trop. Also, an MLB-worst average attendance of 16,902.
"I think the hope is we go back home and see a few fans in the stands and start to use that momentum and gain some of that homefield advantage back," Longoria said.
"This team is fun to watch right now. We know the fans watch and support us on TV and hopefully that's enough of an incentive to come out and see us at the ballpark. … I think the record (52-17 with regular-season crowds of 30,000 or more since 2008) speaks for itself. I'm excited to get back home and get some of that advantage back."
Advance ticket sales for the weekend series with Boston have not been good, however, with crowds well shy of 25,000 expected each night.
Play time: Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and his staff will stage a free interactive fitness seminar from 10-noon Saturday at the Trop for kids 7-17 and their parents. The PLAY program (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) was created by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to raise awareness of awareness of pediatric health issues and obesity.
"It's a chance for our youth of all ages to realize the importance of being physically active, not only for today but for their future, so that hopefully we can all enjoy life, retire someday and have time to spend our money on more enjoyable things than doctor and hospital bills," Porterfield said.
To register, call (727) 825-3306.
Miscellany: A new Majestic Athletic Clubhouse that sells game-version jerseys, caps and other items opens today inside the Trop near the rotunda. … Wednesday's win in St. Louis was the Rays' team-record tying eighth straight on the road.