BRADENTON - He wore No. 40 instead of 14 and he was throwing for Single-A Charlotte instead of the Tampa Bay Rays, but nonetheless, David Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young award winner, said he was nervous before Friday's rehab start against the Bradenton Marauders.
It not only was the first time Price had thrown in a game in almost six weeks, but also it was the first serious test for his arm, which had suffered a triceps strain and placed him on the disabled list.
"My legs were shaking," Price said. "It was like the first time throwing in spring training, or the first start of the year. You want to be competitive."
Price ended up throwing 21?3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits, while walking two and striking out four. He left the game after 49 pitches (a few over his projected pitch count), 29 of which were strikes.
Perhaps most importantly, Price said he felt "good" and even "better" than before he went on the disabled list.
"The biggest thing was that I got (into the third inning)," Price said. "You want to go out (for an inning), sit back down, go out, sit, and go out for that third inning."
Moving forward, Price said it's day to day. How he feels the next few days will determine when he will get his next start, which he predicted might involve around 60 pitches. The hope is that he could return to the Rays in early July, but Price reaffirmed there is no exact timetable.
The process, after all, is new to him, because Price, 27, has never before been on the DL.
Before Price went down, he was 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA, and had never really looked sharp. His comeback was then set back a few days after he threw in a simulated game June 13 and experienced "abnormal soreness."
Following Friday's outing, however, Price said he felt much better than at any point since being put on the DL.
"I'm never satisfied," said Price, who went 20-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 2012. "But it was good to get out there. That was the biggest thing. To hear the walk-up songs, hearing them announce the next hitter. It was all new to me again. It felt good."
Ultimately, he said he wants to help the pitching staff get back on track.
"Just like hitting, pitching is contagious," Price said. "I hope I can come back and get some things going."