Despite rough inning, Tampa Bay Rays' David Price pleased with first spring start since towel-induced injury

LITTLE BY LITTLE: Luke Scott, flying out in the fourth, will rest today as he continues to come back from shoulder surgery.
LITTLE BY LITTLE: Luke Scott, flying out in the fourth, will rest today as he continues to come back from shoulder surgery.
Published March 14, 2012

SARASOTA — The most important thing for LHP David Price after Tuesday's 32/3-inning outing against the Orioles was that he felt good.

His arm was fine. Legs were good. Shoulder solid.

And no problems with his neck, as he made the tactical decision despite the warm temperatures to not towel his head off between innings, which is what left him in pain, and in the headlines, when he hurt himself doing so on Thursday.

"I just kind of let it dry," he said.

Price had a few rough spots in his third outing of the spring, specifically in the second inning when he issued back-to-back walks, the first after starting with an 0-and-2 count to JJ Hardy, then allowed a three-run homer to Jai Miller as part of a four-run Orioles outburst.

But overall he felt good about the 60-pitch appearance and considered it a successful day. He threw his fastball, slider and changeup and was particularly pleased with his off-speed stuff, with the curveball to be worked in later.

"My body keeps getting better every time out, so that's a good thing," he said. "I have nothing, no ailing body parts right now, so that's good. My body feels pretty close to where it needs to be right now."

Manager Joe Maddon was relatively impressed. "Early on I thought he had really good stuff," Maddon said. "He had the one bad inning … where it got away from him a bit but then he came back and threw well after that. So overall I thought it was a pretty positive day for David."

CAUTIOUS HANDLING: DH Luke Scott was back in the lineup after debuting Sunday, striking out looking, flying out to left and walking, and Maddon said he looked more comfortable.

Scott will stay on an every-other-day schedule until the Rays are comfortable his surgically repaired right shoulder can handle more, which will make it tougher to get the 50 at-bats they'd like him to have to be ready for the season.

"We'll just have to play it out and see as he continues to feel like he can go consecutive days, which is when we'll be able to start building up that cache," Maddon said.

GREAT DANE: RHP Dane De La Rosa got himself into trouble in the 10th, allowing the O's to load the bases on two singles and a walk, then did an impressive job getting out of it, with a groundout, a strikeout and a lineout.

"Pretty impressive," Maddon said. "Made big pitches when he had to. I've always thought he has great composure. … He always seems to have control of his emotions and I think he demonstrated that" Tuesday.

READY REID: Maddon said there was nothing to be read into the shortstop battle with Reid Brignac starting at short and Sean Rodriguez at second as the Rays wanted to get both at-bats, and had them flip spots after three innings.

But he did acknowledge that Brignac has made significant progress in the adjustments to his offensive game they sought. "He's definitely moving in the right direction," Maddon said. "Among all the guys he's probably near the top of working on that list and doing a good job with it."

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GAME DETAILS: An eventful day ended in a 7-7 tie with the Orioles. … Matt Joyce's second spring homer gave the Rays (3-7-2) a 1-0 lead, but Price's rough second inning left them a hole that became 5-2. The Rays scored five in the ninth, with SS Hak-Ju Lee delivering the key hit, a two-run triple with two outs in what Maddon called his best at-bat of the spring. Jesus Feliciano had a two-run double. The Rays took a 7-5 lead into the final frame, but minor-leaguer Ryan Reid allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Flaherty to tie it.