Notebook: David Price pleased with eight-strikeout day
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — David Price was all grins after his latest spring outing, and there was good reason for the comfort.
Try eight strikeouts.
”Yeah,” Price said, ”that’s cool.”
Yeah, it was dominant.
Much went right with the ace left-hander’s start in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park. He threw 75 pitches (49 strikes) in five innings to 21 batters, allowing three hits and one earned run to complement his strikeout total.
The best part for the Rays? This is an uncommon feeling, even for him, this early.
”I definitely haven’t felt this good in spring training probably since 2009 or ’10, somewhere along those lines,” Price said. ”It has definitely been awhile. It feels good to feel this good at this point in spring training. But we’re still a couple weeks away — or however many days away we are from Opening Day — and that’s when it matters.”
Predictably, the former American League Cy Young Award winner was pleased with much of his repertoire against a lineup that included star first baseman Joe Mauer. He liked the performance of his cutter and slider, and he called his curveball the best he had seen it all spring.
The view was as good from the dugout, where Rays manager Joe Maddon left pleased.
”David was outstanding,” Maddon said. ”As the game was in progress, everything started working even better and better. He had everything working today — fastball velocity, fastball location, cutter, slider, whatever you want to call it and a really good hook.”
So far, so good for Price, who remains the anchor of Tampa Bay’s staff after an uncertain offseason. On a day when little went wrong after the first inning, he had many reasons to enjoy the progress.
Eight reasons, to be exact.
”After that second inning,” Price said, ”I felt pretty good.”
DAVID DEJESUS RETURNS
One Rays player returned to the lineup feeling better.
David DeJesus started in left field and batted seventh after not playing since last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., due to soreness in his right side.
”No problems at all,” he said after hitting 2 for 2 with one RBI. ”Felt good. Saw the ball well. That’s it.”
DeJesus’ return included an interesting sequence. In the bottom of the second inning, he was called out standing after a close play at home plate. However, he said catcher Kurt Suzuki never tagged him after missing his intended target.
So DeJesus went back and made contact with home plate, after some prodding from his own dugout. He did so as practice for new rules under Major League Baseball’s enhanced replay system.
”You never know,” DeJesus said. ”In that situation, he didn’t tag me. That would have gotten replayed, and we might have gotten the one run.”
NO JUAN CARLOS OVIEDO CONCERNS
Maddon remains unconcerned that right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo has yet to report to camp. The 31-year-old native of Jamao Norte, Dominican Republic, is the lone player yet to arrive out of the 64 invited to spring training because of visa issues in his native country.
”We’re not there yet,” Maddon said of possibly looking for replacements for Oviedo. ”As long as he’s throwing down there. I’m sure he’s throwing against hitters.”
Infielder Wilson Betemit and right-hander Juan Sandoval also had visa issues in the Dominican Republic that delayed their arrivals. Both, however, made their way north, albeit later than expected.
”I’m not there yet regarding being concerned, but I was really anticipating that he’d be here by now,” Maddon said. ”It’s just awkward that some guys get out, and he can’t get out. Who knows why? I’m at the intersection of ‘I’m OK with this’ and ‘Let’s get this thing going.’ ”
NATHAN KARNS EAGER
Right-hander Nathan Karns says he’s beyond his acclimation process and is eager about his start Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Gained in a four-player trade with the Washington Nationals on Feb. 13, Karns has allowed one hit with two strikeouts in three innings during spring training.
”I just look at it as I’ll have to start a game and do what I’ve been doing,” Karns said. ”So I want to get out there and improve what I’ve been working on and just enjoy the opportunity. I can’t control what happens after that. The only thing I can control is how to prepare for this upcoming start.”
Karns, 26, has little major league experience, but he said his goal is to make the Rays’ Opening Day roster. He was 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA and 11 strikeouts in three starts with the Washington Nationals last year.
Though Karns has spent most of his career in the minors — he began last season with Double-A Harrisburg — he has found positives in the way he has transitioned to his new clubhouse. His progress pleases him.
”I’m one step closer, but I’m not at the finish line yet,” Karns said. ”So that’s how I look at it.”
The Rays received some good news with a few players who are recovering from minor injuries.
Ben Zobrist (neck) participated in workouts Tuesday, and he said he plans to be the designated hitter when Tampa Bay plays Wednesday in Dunedin. Joel Peralta (neck) will pitch in a minor league game Wednesday, as will Alex Cobb and Grant Balfour.
”It’s just all minor spring-training stuff, and they’re all good and fine,” Maddon said.
Four players were reassigned to minor-league camp Tuesday: catcher Curt Casali, left-hander Braulio Lara and right-handers Sam Runion and Santiago Garrido.