PORT CHARLOTTE — Rain washed out Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles in Sarasota, but Rays pitchers, namely LHP David Price, were able to get in their work.
Price, who was scheduled to pitch three innings against the Orioles, pitched one inning of a simulated game at Charlotte Sports Park, then moved to the mounds in the indoor batting cage once the storm reached Port Charlotte.
“We were able to accomplish everything,” Price said.
He finished his workout pitching to players from minor-league camp. Since Price did not want to pitch from behind an L-screen and since balls ricocheting off the sides of the cage could, as Price said, make things “weird,” the batters didn’t swing.
Because of that, Price said most of his 61 pitches were strikes.
“I punched out a bunch of dudes in the cage,” he said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was glad the Orioles called the game at 10:15 a.m. The Rays had already called an audible and changed their pitching plans, scratching Price from his start and organizing the sim game for Price, RHP Heath Bell, RHP Josh Lueke and RHP Alex Colome.
“We went ‘Omaha’ early,” Maddon said. “And with that we were able to get the primary stuff done.”
It also afforded a short day for all the players.
“The most important thing that got done was that the pitchers threw,” Maddon said. “That’s always the most important thing. The players can use a day off, especially the catchers. If you look at the calendar, the date, if there was a scheduled off day (Thursday), I would have been very happy to begin with. That doesn’t bother me in the least.”
At this point of camp, Price said not facing batters Thursday during his workout was not an issue. A rainout later in camp, when Price is scheduled to throw seven innings/105 pitches, would be more disruptive.
“It might make a difference, but right now I don’t think so,” Price said. “Being able to go out there and still get your work in and still have hitters in the box, I feel like I threw every pitch as hard as I could, and it went really well.”
INF Wilson Betemit finally made it to camp, arriving Thursday morning after a frantic two days that saw him finally receive his work visa Tuesday, catch a late-night flight Wednesday to Miami and make the ride early Thursday to Port Charlotte.
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo is the last of the three Dominican players in Rays camp still awaiting his visa.
“They got some investigation (going on in the Dominican), not only for me,” Betemit said, “It’s taking forever. I don’t know what happened.”
Betemit, who signed a minor-league deal Feb. 4 with an invite to major-league camp, will compete for a spot on the bench. He has played all four infield positions as well as the corner outfield spots. A switch-hitter, Betemit can also DH. He would give Maddon a lot of options if he makes the club.
“Absolutely. He’s a veteran. He’s done a lot of major-league work,” Maddon said. “He’s a dangerous hitter, and he’s mobile so he definitely fits our (model).”
Betemit was with the Orioles the past two years but missed nearly all of 2013 after tearing his right PCL during spring training. He said he signed with the Rays because he liked what he saw while playing against them during the past six seasons while he was with the Yankees, White Sox, Royals and Orioles.
Betemit worked out at the Rays’ baseball academy in the Dominican and said he is not that far behind the players already in camp. Maddon said Betemit could play in a game as soon as Saturday.
Betemit does have an opt-out clause at the end of the month, but he said he is not worried about that now.
“Let’s see what happens,” he said. “I want to stay here. This is a great team.”