ST. PETERSBURG Rays LHP David Price reached into his locker stall, grabbed his glove and headed for the outfield turf to play some catch. The seemingly simple act proved another step in Price’s recovery from a strained triceps muscle in his pitching arm that landed him on the 15-day disabled list on May 16. Monday was the second start he has missed, and though he is eligible to return May 31, there is no timetable for when he will return to the mound. After making 35 throws, including some harder tosses toward the end, in less than five minutes Price said he experienced no set backs. “It felt real good, it felt normal, so it was a very positive day,’’ Price said.
Price, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, struggled to start the season posting a 1-4 record with a 5.24 ERA in nine starts before landing on the DL. The next step for Price is to play catch again, perhaps extending the number of throws he makes, but is not sure if that will take place on Tuesday or Wednesday. “I might do the same thing I did (Monday), if I come in and feel fine (Tuesday), so if I play catch on (Tuesday) it means I feel great,’’ Price said. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield informed him Price looked better than expected. Struggling start RHP Jake Odorizzi was handed a six-run lead after the second inning in his second career start with the Rays but failed to get out of the fifth inning after allowing six runs on eight hits. The 23-year-old was pulled after loading the bases with no outs in the top of the fifth. “I was just getting extremely frustrated trying to manufacture outs any way I could and I just couldn’t do that today when it came to the fifth inning,’’ he said. “It’s very frustrating not being able to get through the fifth inning when your team gives you a six runs.’’ Bullpen Holds On The much maligned Rays’ bullpen managed to hold things together on Monday as Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney combined to pitch five scoreless innings in relief of Odorizzi. McGee, Peralta and Rodney combined to set down 12 of the final 14 Miami hitters. “The bullpen was phenomenal,’’ Odorizzi said. McGee had the biggest impact throwing two innings allowing one hit and striking out two while being credited with the victory. The outing was the longest for McGee since going 2 1/3 innings on May 3, 2012. “I felt really good today, I was getting a lot of quick outs,’’ McGee said. “I came back from the first (inning) and asked if I felt good, and I said yeah, so they said I’m going out for a second one.’’ Home Cooking Tampa Bay has scored eight or more runs in seven of the 26 home games thus far this season. Last season they scored eight or more runs in only seven of the 81 home games. But Maddon believes the offense is yet to peak once others in the lineup start to find their groove. “I still think there is room for improvement with the offense,’’ Maddon said. The Better Halves Before Monday’s game, the Rays’ wives played a charity softball game against a group of Marlins’ wives with the Rays celebrating a walk-off 13-12 victory. This marks the third consecutive year the event has been held with the two sides splitting the first two games. The Rays were led by Sarah Fuld, who finished 3-for-3 and scored the game-winning run, along with Aly Shelton (3-for-3). Ashley Koehler led the Marlins offense with four hits, five RBI and two home runs. The Rays’ wives were representing Autism Speaks and Marlins Wives played on behalf of Shake-a-Leg Miami. Noteworthy There were a pair of 14-pitch at-bats on Monday, first by Miami DH Jordan Brown, who grounded out in the second, and by Rays’ RF Matt Joyce, who eventually singled in the fourth inning. They are the longest plate appearances in the majors this season. … CF Desmond Jennings batted seventh on Monday, the first time in 45 games this season he has not hit in the lead-off spot. … Tampa Bay improved to 3-18 this season when being outhit by the opposition. … The Rays are 7-1 in interleague games this season.