David Price eager to make return with Rays in Houston

Rays ace David Price is eager to return for the club on Tuesday against the Astros.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price is coming back.

The Tampa Bay Rays plan to have the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner start on Tuesday against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The left-hander has been on the disabled list since May 16, a day after he strained his left triceps in an abbreviated start against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

“It’s going to be good to get out there and face major-league hitters in a major-league game,” Price said. “It has been quite a while.”

The development was not entirely unexpected, given Price’s progress in recent weeks. On Wednesday in Port Charlotte, Fla., he threw 72 pitches (54 strikes), allowed two hits and struck out eight batters in his second rehab start with Class A Charlotte against Bradenton, a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate. Earlier, on June 21, he threw 49 pitches (29 strikes) in 2 1/3 innings for Charlotte in Bradenton.

Before Price began his first rehab start, Rays manager Joe Maddon had set a late June/early July target for the pitcher’s return. Earlier in his recovery process, Price was expected to make two or three rehab starts.

“He’s ready to go,” Maddon said. “We felt that pretty strongly. He feels very good. There’s no reason to have him throw those 90 (rehab) pitches in Port Charlotte. … He felt great. The medical staff feels good about it.”

Price will throw another bullpen session Saturday before starting a normal five-day rotation schedule, as long as the bullpen session goes well as expected. In addition to pitching against the Astros, the Rays plan to have Price appear July 7 against the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field, then July 12 against the Astros at Tropicana Field and then July 19 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the first game back after the All-Star break.

“It has been out of my system for a while now, and I’m ready to get that feeling back,” Price said.

Maddon said left-hander Matt Moore will start Monday against Houston, then right-hander Roberto Hernandez will start Wednesday. For Thursday’s start in Houston, either right-hander Alex Colome or right-hander Chris Archer will get the nod.   

Price has a 1-4 record with a 5.24 ERA in nine starts this season. After six weeks on the disabled list, he is eager for his wait to be over.

“I’m ready to get back out there,” Price said.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.

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