PORT CHARLOTTE — It took two innings Tuesday for LHP David Price to slow himself down and find a rhythm, and once he did, he was unhittable.
Price allowed three hits, including a home run by DH Jason Kubel, walked one and hit a batter in his first two innings then retired the final nine batters he faced in the Rays' 7-1 victory against the visiting Twins.
“I don't think you can look any better. I think it's impossible,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He and (C Jose Molina) together looked really good.”
Price was locating his fastball and throwing his back-door cutter to right-handers. He said his curveball was the best he has thrown this spring. Price was pleased with the fact he got through five innings.
“That's more than throwing the pitching limit,” Price said. “It's getting up and down the amount of times they want us to. Everything felt great. I definitely felt like I could have kept going and thrown more pitches.”
As he has said often since camp began, Price said he hasn't felt this good in spring training since 2009 or 2010.
“I believe it. It's really fun to watch,” Maddon said. “His ability to execute all of his pitches is uncanny. You got a power left-handed pitcher with a variety of things he can do, when he has them all going on a specific day or night, it's really fun to watch.”
LF David DeJesus, returning to the lineup Tuesday after missing a week because of soreness in his right side, had a pair of hits and drove in a run.
But his biggest play came after he was called out at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. DeJesus was on third and came home when 2B Cole Figueroa bunted back to the mound. Avoiding contact with Twins C Kurt Suzuki, DeJesus ran wide of the plate and was called out.
“I didn't touch the plate, and he didn't tag me, either, so I was ready to do a juke move on him, boy, but (umpire Marvin Hudson) called me out,” DeJesus said. “I was like, 'all right.' I snuck back to the plate just for video replay. You never know.”
If it had been a televised game and Maddon had asked for a replay, DeJesus would have been ruled safe since he eventually touched the plate.
“That was an interesting moment,” Maddon said.
Cobb avoids Jays
RHP Alex Cobb, originally scheduled to start today, will pitch in a minor-league game to avoid facing the Blue Jays in consecutive starts since he is scheduled to face the Jays in the second game of the regular season.
“It's not so much about them seeing my stuff. They saw my stuff all last year. They saw it last start. That's not what I'm worried about,” Cobb said. “I'm worried about them figuring out sequences, going to certain pitches, setting up hitters certain ways. You can only set up hitters so many ways. You get a little bit of mind fatigue trying to get guys out and then you have to do it during the regular season.”
Cobb is scheduled to face the Orioles in each of his last two Grapefruit League starts. He said he will likely make one of those starts in a minor-league game.
2B Ben Zobrist (stiff neck) participated in the morning workout and is scheduled to DH this afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. RHP Joel Peralta (stiff neck) will pitch today in a minor league game.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson is scheduled to play catch Thursday for the first time since having elbow surgery Jan. 28. Hellickson said he will play catch for five minutes at 45 to 60 feet.
RHP Grant Balfour, who said after his last outing he is in the “dead-arm” period of spring training, had his next outing pushed back from Tuesday to today to give him an extra day of rest. ... RHP Nathan Karns will start today against the Jays. “I want to go out there and improve what I've been working on and just enjoy the opportunity,” he said. ... Maddon said he is impressed with LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and LHP Adam Liberatore. ... The Rays sent C Curt Casali, RHP Sam Runion, RHP Santiago Garrido and LHP Braulio Lara back to minor-league camp Tuesday.