BOSTON - Tampa Bay Rays LHP David Price will begin his minor-league rehab assignment Friday night in Bradenton when he will pitch for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Rays manager Joe Maddon, who this month said Price would need just two rehab starts and could make as many as four starts with the Rays before the All-Star break, backed off setting any timetable for Price's return.
"We have no specific numbers or innings," Maddon said before Wednesday's game with the Red Sox. "We're just going to have him go throw (Friday) and have people there watching - of course, it's not going to be a lengthy outing - kind of monitor it and see how it goes."
Price has been on the disabled list since May 16 with a left triceps strain. His rehab was moving along quickly until he threw a simulated game June 13 and felt overall soreness. That was supposed to be the last test before the Rays sent him out on a minor-league rehab assignment, but the soreness set Price back.
"The (setback) I think basically was the intensity which he threw in that sim game," Maddon said. "He was like literally midseason, been playing all the time, I haven't missed any time. He threw that with that kind of intensity. I think there was some abnormal soreness based on that effort level.
"But moving forward I think he learned a little bit of a lesson. Guy's never been hurt before, sometimes they don't know the difference between soreness and pain and what that exactly means. Soreness is not a bad thing. Pain is bad. And he was just abnormally sore."
Maddon said the organization will handle Price's return on a "game-by-game" basis.
As for returning to the Rays before the All-Star break, which begins July 15, Maddon said, "I think there's definitely a possibility of him being back by the All-Star break."
Big outs for Torres
Maddon said LHP Alex Torres could someday return to being a starter but said he has other plans for the rookie - late-inning reliever.
Much like the way J.P. Howell morphed from long relief to what Maddon called his late-innings "fireman" in 2008, Torres is moving toward that role this season after starting the season with 18.1 scoreless innings.
"Right now he's lining up as a pretty good high-leverage relief pitcher against righties and lefties," Maddon said. "That's the thing that's pretty sweet."
Maddon said he would consider Torres the surprise of the season.
"I would say that's reasonable," Maddon said. "Coming out of spring training, if you told me he was going to be doing this right now I would be a little bit skeptical."
Maddon said he's not yet comfortable with using Torres on back-to-back days, but he expects that moment will arrive.
Joyce on the move
Matt Joyce will become the primary left fielder now that rookie RF Wil Myers has joined the club.
Maddon said Kelly Johnson and even Luke Scott will rotate through left field, and Joyce could find himself back in right when Maddon wants to rest Myers against a tough right-handed pitcher.
"It's a big adjustment, especially for someone who's played primarily that position their whole life," Joyce said. "At the same time it's part of the game. We have a lot of people who move positions and play a lot of different positions. For me I have to take extra reps over there until I get comfortable."
See you in NYC
No one on the team is looking forward to this weekend in New York more than LHP Cesar Ramos, who will reunite with fiancÚ Melanie McCauley.
McCauley finished treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma on Tuesday and had her port removed Wednesday.
"She'll see her oncologist then it's the next flight out," Ramos said.
McCauley was diagnosed in November and began treatment the first Monday in December. Ramos has seen her once since spring training. That was in May when he left the team for the day after the series in Colorado and met McCauley in Los Angeles.
"Everything's going well," Ramos said. "I can't wait to see her again."
The Rays suffered their fifth walk-off loss of the season Tuesday night. They had six walk-off losses in 2012. . The Rays will play their 2,500th game tonight. . Jonny Gomes became the second former Ray to beat them with a walk-off home run. Aubrey Huff did it for the Orioles on May 9, 2007.