Price's maiden outing has ups, downs
Hurler dazzles fans with pitches despite struggling with control
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- David Price made his first appearance of the spring Tuesday, and he responded with two scoreless innings and some impressive work with his changeup during the Rays' 11-4 win over the Blue Jays.
Despite being a little wild, Price kept his composure, showed off some nice changeups and aired out a few fastballs during his outing.
"[It] felt good to finally be out there," Price said. "It went all right. I can't complain. [I] kept zeroes on the scoreboard, so that's what you're going after."
A ripple of excitement could be felt at Charlotte Sports Park when Price entered the game to pitch in the top of the seventh inning.
"He threw the ball well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "[His] velocity was good. I know he struggled a little bit throwing his fastball for a strike, but [he] threw some really good changeups.
"He had some really nice changeups today, some real nice sliders. Physically, his velocity was really good."
Angel Sanchez led off for the Blue Jays in the seventh, and Price walked him on four pitches. The next hitter, Brad Emaus, then looked at two balls before the 23-year-old left-hander delivered his first strike. Emaus went on to become Price's first strikeout victim.
Ryan Patterson was the third hitter to face Price, and he took a ball before swinging at a high fastball and missing for the first strike. The sound of Price's fastball made a loud pop, which evoked applause. Patterson became the second out when he popped out to center field.
Travis Snider made the third out, swinging at strike three to end the inning.
Price continued to struggle with his control in his second inning of work, issuing a leadoff walk to Scott Campbell before getting Brian Dopirak to hit a changeup into a 1-6-3 double play. Price finished off his outing when Sean Shoffit watched strike three go past for the third out of the eighth -- also on a changeup, one of the pitches the Rays would like to see Price improve upon.
Tampa Bay's top prospect is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. And while Price might be the most talented pitcher competing for the fifth spot, he's not a lock to win the job, based on the fact that Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel are both out of options. If one or both don't make the team, the Rays would risk losing them.
"All I can do is throw well," Price said. "There's a bunch of different stuff going on with that, so [I have to] just go out there and have fun."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.