PORT CHARLOTTE — Tampa Bay Rays LHP David Price put the finishing touches on his spring Wednesday night with four innings against the Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park.
“That was hands-down the most productive spring that I’ve had, mentally, physically,” he said. “Feeling comfortable on the mound this early on with all my pitches. I pitched good.”
Price pitched four games against major-league teams this spring, throwing 17ß innings and allowing 12 hits and seven runs. He struck out 20 and walked three.
Against the Orioles on Wednesday, Price allowed three runs on five hits. He walked a batter and struck out five. The Orioles scored two runs in the fourth inning — all with two outs — and the game ended in a 4-4 tie.
Price said that is the one thing he needs to improve upon.
“Whenever you have two outs, nobody on base, you have to be able to shut those innings down, not go double, double, single for two runs,” he said. “That will hurt you. It takes innings away from you.”
Price’s next outing is Monday, when he faces the Blue Jays on Opening Day.
“It will probably take forever,” Price said of the wait during the days leading up to that start.
RHP Grant Balfour faced the Orioles for the first time this spring and for the first time since Baltimore took back its contract offer after claiming Balfour failed the physical.
“That stuff’s for my agent to take care of,” Balfour said. “I’m focused on winning. That’s a little more fuel for me.”
Balfour, who will pitch Friday against the Tigers, was happy for the opportunity to pitch in a night game.
“It’s the normal routine, but we haven’t had a lot of night games,” he said. “Just getting back on track like that was good, a night game, being up late, getting the body used to it.”
Balfour also said he’s happy with the way he is throwing at this point of the spring, even if his velocity is still in the low-90s.
“Obviously, you want to be throwing a little bit harder, maybe, but I’ve always been around that and it always builds up. But it’s coming out of the hand real good, and it’s live, and that’s a good sign,” he said.
RHP Mark Lowe, released Wednesday, said he would be willing to pitch for Triple-A Durham this year if he can’t find a job by Opening Day with a major-league team.
“They’re definitely on the top of my list,” he said. “I don’t think that going to Triple-A is a fun thing to think about, but that’s a reality, possibly. I would see no reason why not.”
Lowe allowed one earned run this spring, but with RHP Josh Lueke out of options and RHP Brandon Gomes pitching so well, there just wasn’t a spot for him in the bullpen.
“Love to have him back, and I can say that quickly,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He is good, and we’ve been seeking him for a while and finally got our hands on him, and right now there’s no room in the inn. But we’d love to keep him because we know things are going to change, and they do change.”
No Zo in the outfield?
2B Ben Zobrist has not played the outfield this spring, because for the first time since 2008, he is not needed there.
With no DH on the roster, the Rays will carry five true outfielders this season. Plus, UTL Sean Rodriguez can play left field.
Maddon doesn’t envision much need for Zobrist in the outfield this season. If he does, Maddon said Zobrist can adjust quickly.
“He is so good out there, I truly believe that to just throw him out there he’ll be fine,” Maddon said.
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo pitched an inning Wednesday, but Maddon said he expects Oviedo to not be ready to start the season. ... CF Desmond Jennings stole two bases Wednesday. ... The Rays drew 78,624 to Charlotte Sports Park in 14 home dates. It was the lowest total spring attendance since the park opened in 2009.